Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lessons for Martinsville

In an editorial last week, the Danville Register & Bee praised Danville and Pittsylvania County for cooperating on a mega-industrial park to be built near the North Carolina border. When it's finished, the site will contain 3000 acres of pre-graded land, ready to host industrial tenants. Obviously, this is a big step forward in terms of inter-locality participation, and it's very good news if it actually attracts big employers--the only caveat being that the tobacco/textile/furniture experience taught us never to depend too much on any one factory, industry or type of economic growth. But overall, this project gets the 220 South seal of approval.

And it also brings up a good point. Pay attention Martinsville-Henry County: this is what can happen when localities cooperate instead of having to call in U.N. peacekeepers. The two local entities have cooperated on things like the Patriot Center industrial park, and it brought good things. But now Martinsville is on a mission to try and compete with the Patriot Center at their Clearview Business Park. They also would like to revive the old Martinsville Novelty factory to shop around to potential businesses--even though it's a 70-year-old dilapidated mudhole that was an eyesore twenty years ago.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to create jobs within the city limits--after all, the city has the highest unemployment in the state. But the idea that somehow the city, which is basically landlocked, can find enough space to compete with the Patriot Center and other county-based industrial parks is redundant, backward-looking lunacy. Industry should be the realm of the county, because they have the space to accommodate it. So what is Martinsville's economic niche? As far as I'm concerned it basically depends on two things: Uptown Martinsville and the New College. If Uptown becomes a thriving community with offices, residences, shops and restaurants and the New College develops into a four-year residential college or university, these two factors will have positive impacts on each other. 

As for the battling egos and turf wars between the city and the county? They're toxic. This is Virginia--not Serbia.

1 comment:

JCWhite said...

Max, I think you have spoken what many of us think. The time for egos on both the City Council and County BOS is over. They need to work together.