LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Thanks to donors for sharing their blood

Thank you to everyone who participated in the May 8 American Red Cross blood drive in Hillsboro. Sixty-seven people came in to share their life-giving blood, including two first-time donors.

They can feel proud that they did their civic duty and helped to ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in hospitals throughout our area.

Our next drive will be July 3.

Shirley Kasper, Gladys Funk

Hillsboro drive coordinators

Competitiveness limits potential

Our community leaders are public officials and promoters who are elected or appointed to their position. To their credit, they live and work in the community and, we hope, feel a sense of civic duty.

No one need speak for them because they speak loudly enough for themselves through their words or actions. In so doing, they tell us all something about their sense of the community as they represent the community to others.

In small communities, city leaders and promoters serve at the behest of a few officials at the top of the political chain.

Around Marion County, the mayor or city administrator is in charge. These officials have great influence on the process of governance and economic development. As long as we are satisfied that our interests are served by these public officials and promoters, things are as they should be.

It is clear that many community leaders throughout Marion County don’t recognize the importance of regional community development and how it can better serve us. And, in many cases, those who know better aren’t helping because of self interests.

Some of our greatest economic successes come simply from determined efforts of individuals and neighbors who finally recognize that we can accomplish much more together than we can on our own.

On the other hand, we pay for economic development and we have yet to realize the influence that regional economic development has on our county communities.

Some of the opportunities are through federal, state and local programs. There is value in knowing what the programs are and how they work. And, it takes someone familiar with these programs and services to put them to good use throughout the county. That person should be someone without bias.

Wishing there was more to do for local entrepreneurs or viewing local entrepreneurial development as a drain on taxpayers is further evidence of the fatalistic approach resulting in our negative economic growth.

Our leadership’s propensity for protectionism breeds arrogance. Yes, we are aware of numerous opportunities for business growth in Marion County and it goes well beyond the city of Hillsboro and Marion.

The greatest of these opportunities witnessed recently was located in Marion County along U.S. Highway 50. So, opportunities exist well beyond the clutches of the Hillsboro City Council, Hillsboro Development Corporation or Marion City Development. The 15 families that would have relocated here in Marion County went elsewhere and took their community investment with them.

Opportunities are not referred to Marion County for several reasons.

First, whom would you contact? Even if organizations like the Kansas Department of Commerce want to assist, who in Marion County would they call?

In most cases, the community development promoters lack the knowledge of basic program assistance. Even those who know how to access programs are likely to have a very narrow view based on their selective community interests.

Meanwhile, the remaining development strength is a tug-of-war between community service projects in Hillsboro and Marion. It’s the largest statement communities like Hillsboro and Marion can still make-on their own.

Instead of pulling together, our communities hoard what little entrepreneurial interests emerge on its own. But we’re spending all our community energy making community service statements as if people will flock here and appreciate the fact that our dwindling healthcare systems survived another day or we built two whopping water parks.

There are advantages to having community services that support and protect our lifestyle. Two hospitals and two water parks are great community assets if we can afford them.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in our economic history or future, except what the leaders say, that suggests we can afford this duplicity

We would better spend our resources developing solutions for enhancing our business growth in a greater community sense.

If all the money wasted on two of each were put into one of each, the rest could be placed into a community foundation that served our county through, let’s say, a revolving loan fund.

These funds can be matched with federal and state loan programs. Someone has to know how it works and put it together. Local banks are more interested in lending through RLF because of the guarantees which lower the risks.

Win, win instead of lose.

Through these methods we could better serve our broader needs for economic growth, especially at the grassroots level, where entrepreneurs begin and continue to need assistance, or where community facilities provide for our greater community future.

We will doubtless see some effort for a county foundation emerge, but it’s likely to be meager because of the competition that still exists between our communities and because Hillsboro has already begun its own community foundation.

Our leaders are responsible for doing something to stop the economic hemorrhaging.

So far, Hillsboro and Marion are every bit as “nice” a place to live as places like Sterling and Lyons in Rice County. But Rice has regional development on their side.

It’s not that they don’t compete between communities. They do, and some of it is ugly. But, over the years, they have managed to develop a lot of regional community services despite their differences and by now they have built up interest on a lot of local dollars that are used in their communities.

Stan Thiessen

Hillsboro

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