Two counties vying to attract new businesses
Published: Monday, July 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 1, 2002 at 12:00 a.m.
Some say the anti-business reputations of Gainesville and Alachua County are just a matter of perception. But business groups in two neighboring counties see them as "Starke Realities."
That's the heading on a new billboard on Waldo Road across from the Gainesville Regional Airport promoting the promise of a business-friendly environment in Bradford and Union counties. Both are trying to capture new industries locating in the region or those looking to leave Gainesville.
"Industrial companies want low-cost, labor-rich, business-friendly and regulation-realistic communities to do business in," said Lex Green, executive director of the North Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce in Starke. "Bradford and Union counties offer this and more."
County Commissioner Rodney Long asked city officials how much Gainesville would be willing to pay for an ad campaign designed to win over support for the merger, which goes before voters in November.
That was too much for City Commissioner Tony Domenech, who made a motion that the city pull out of the merger altogether. He says he thinks the merged fire department could wind up costing taxpayers more money, without a noticeable increase in service. "It's time to turn off the spigot," Domenech said.
The motion failed, but the city could scuttle the merger at a future meeting.
County commissioners have agreed to tighten their rules on how long citizens can speak on wanton issues during the commission's televised meetings. Until recently, a simple phone call to the county could get you on the agenda for a presentation of up to 15 minutes - no matter what your cause.
Free TV time is an invaluable tool for people with a cause to promote. One resident, for instance, showed up at every meeting for a couple of months, once appearing in a sort of minstrel-show costume, complaining that he was a "slave" to the court system.
Now, if residents want on the agenda, they'll have to get permission from the county manager, a county commissioner, the county attorney or a constitutional officer. Otherwise, they'll have to say their peace in five minutes or less during the citizen's comment portion of the agenda.
- Lex Green, executive director of the North Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce, on why businesses might want to come to Bradford and Union counties.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim Lockette can be reached at (352) 374-5088 or email@example.com.
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