Group to focus on economic growth

©2003 Homer Index

by Mike Warner


Realizing economic growth is imperative if Homer is to thrive, the Homer
Business Association has formed an Economic Development Committee (EDC) to
try and spur growth in the area.

The EDC is holding its first meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m at the
Community House. Contractor Darian O'Dell is chairing the committee, which
also includes HBA chairman Chris Miller, Jewell Burkwalt, Mike Warner, Terry
Chilicote, Village Manager Tom Cogswell, Ric Crague, Luanne Knapp and Jerry
Stonebraker. The group will also try to incorporate representatives from
Homer Township into the group. The public is also welcome to attend and take
part.

Miller, who also serves on the village council in addition to heading the
HBA, says the goal of the EDC is to pull together different groups within
the community to work collectively to bring new homes and businesses to the
area.

"We need to forge ahead with growth," Miller explained. "It will take time,
but if we don't see some economic development the village will decline. We
are already showing signs of stress. As the tax base goes down, so will
services. Retail businesses will close, jobs will leave the area and so will
people. If we don't grow, we will be left with a village of low income and
retired people who will not be able to afford to support the services
needed. Fire and police protection will suffer quickly."

Miller said an increase in homes, downtown businesses and outlying
businesses and industries are all pieces of the same puzzle that will ensure
Homer's future.

Housing will be a key focus of the EDC.
"Ten new families will dramatically impact the business community," Miller
noted. "We need all types of housing, but especially good, solid homes for
middle class families. We also need upper scale homes for managers and
executives of our industries.

"I'd like to see us with new homes like Coldwater, Vicksburg and other towns
that are thriving have," Miller added.
Miller said he's concerned because the annual income of residents in the
village and Homer Township have declined over the past 10 years, while
salaries have increased in neighboring communities. New home construction
has been stagnant over that same period of time. Those are not signs of a
healthy community, he remarked.

Miller stressed there are no quick-fix solutions to the problem.
"It will take 5-10 years to turn the situation around," he predicted. "But
I'm really encouraged by the number of young people in the community willing
to get involved with the Economic Development Committee. It's exciting to
see the number of young people willing to give back to the community."

 


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This article courtesy Homer Index.

©2003
used with permission



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