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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Without the F-35, it's up to us now

Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2010, at 9:04 AM

The decision by the Air Force not to select Mountain Home AFB as its preferred alternative for the first operational squadrons of the F-35 is clearly disappointing.

Local officials are trying to put a good face on the decision, noting that there are other rounds of basing selections and Mountain Home should do well in those rounds.

In fact, we could get those planes almost as quickly as the bases preferred by the Air Force for the first squadrons. Because of program delays, the first F-35s for the Air Force won't be available until 2015, anyway, and one or two additional basing rounds will probably be held before then. So, at that point, it would be up to how fast the planes can be produced, and we easily could have some of those squadrons here soon after 2015.

But that probably means at least six more years of the base being underutilized. Within the next 60 days, the base will lose another flying squadron, leaving only two USAF flying squadrons at the base (plus the RSAF squadron), down from the heady days of the Composite Wing when there were five flying squadrons there.

The drawdown in forces has stifled local economic growth. Combined with the Great Recession, it's been tough around here, and it won't get better real quick, real soon.

That doesn't mean we should give up -- or simply sit on our hands and wait for the Air Force to save us.

Over the years, the fluctuating fortunes at the airbase have caused this community to try and become less dependent upon the airbase for our economic well-being. That effort has largely been successful and has helped a lot. But now, we need to redouble our efforts at drawing new business and industry -- more jobs -- into the community. That burden has fallen largely on the city's economic development office, the only organized effort to bring new business and industry here. So the pressure's on the new director of that effort, Paula Riggs.

No longer can we sit back and wait for people to contact us. We need to become more proactive in seeking out entrepreneurs, both locally and beyond, willing to invest in jobs in this area. Although it's probably too late in the budget year to do anything about it now, the city (and the county and the Chamber of Commerce in both Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry), need to begin looking at providing extra funding for the economic development effort, to send Paula out to start stirring up interest in our community.

The effort needs direction in terms of what people would like to see, so some method of obtaining that input needs to be put in place. And anyone with any tips about someone looking for a good place to locate a business or industry should call the development office.

Finally, the elected leaders of Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry and Elmore County need to work together to develop reasonable incentive packages (primarily tax and zoning breaks) to help draw more jobs to the area. We're not saying give away the farm, but whatever breaks they can provide should be codified and offered.

It's time to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and begin a serious effort now. It would help us in many ways, not the least of which is that a good job market is attractive to the Air Force in order to provide jobs for spouses.

But we can't let the Air Force be the core of our future. It needs to be the icing on the cake. Waiting six or more years for the Air Force to save us would be little more than a long, slow, lingering death.

Our future is in our own hands. Carpe Diem.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I agree. I still wonder about the Jr. college that was turned down a few years back by the mayor. Has that ever been considered again? It isn't much, but it would possibly provide some jobs and a flow of some money. Possibly even rental contracts. I was hoping to see one come to town because I think that would be a start of making our town more self sufficient.

-- Posted by midea on Wed, Aug 4, 2010, at 4:19 PM

There's good advice in this editorial about attracting business, but it's missing an additional item. Local officials and residents need to resist the impulse to chase businesses away once they've said they're interested in Elmore County.

I say this as a representative of a business (Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.) that has tried for a couple of years to attain a fairly simple land designation change. AEHI came here and spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to set up a well-paying industry, only to have a few well-connected local people delay the process, perhaps irreparably.

Yes, our power plant is a controversial project - anyone trying to build a nuclear plant, solar plant or wind farm is in for substantial opposition, which is probably why not much gets built any more in the US. It's for each community to weigh its desire for economic development with its desire to keep things as they are. But things will change, whether it's a business that shuts down, outsources, shrinks or moves. Who is knocking on your door and what are you telling them and, by extension, other businesses? Could a military base be built in Elmore County today if proposed?

I suspect AEHI may not be the only business in this category; it might be useful to take an inventory of what's happened with past economic development proposals, both solicited and offered.

The by-gum-we-need-to-pull-ourselves-up-by-the-boostraps pep talk is necessary. But in addition, you could reconsider the practice using those same boots to kick businesses that have expressed interest.

Martin Johncox

Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

-- Posted by mjohncox on Fri, Aug 6, 2010, at 2:09 PM

That was all FactMissy's doing. She's an expert on nuclear plants and zoning. Had you thought of it, you could have asked her where to locate it. Or, you could tell her where to put it.

-- Posted by Quidnunc on Fri, Aug 6, 2010, at 3:28 PM

By all means lets just whore ourselves out to whatever slickters want to use our county commissioners to forward their stock scam. . Of course we will rewrite the law as many times as necessary to accommodate whatever tire burning factory, whorehouse, or AEHI verbal fecal cleaning facility, that will provide the promise of jobs. Save your "by-gum" advice for when Donnie stops wearing jeans to his town hall indoctrinations trying to look like a good ol boy. We're tired of having to take a shower every time we are blessed by the chosen ones fake soft voice and the fake concern for Mountain Home.

-- Posted by AtomicDog on Sat, Aug 7, 2010, at 7:41 PM

the problem with your proposal is the lack of safeguards for the is not about keeping things the same or about the job it is about a balance........ i realize that nucular energy is part of the future and i support that ,but i also want viable safeguards on our water ,our land,and our bring in workers and build,,,, there here for awhile and they move on and we are left with the aftermath and all the bad things that go with it......i didnt hear what you were willing to do for us.......sound selfish,well it is , because as said earlier your only intrested in making money and you dont care at whose exspence. either now or latter........there are some things that money cannot buy,and in some cases it will not make better

-- Posted by lamont on Sun, Aug 29, 2010, at 8:03 PM

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