A Chunk of Change
The numbers are in, well sort of in, and the bottom line for the proposed Commerce Park in White Pine is just a little steeper than I thought it would be. I figured on being north of five million dollars and even closer to ten million but fifteen million dollars is so north that it is like Canada north. For me, the jury is still out on this proposed project. It is really hard to wrap my head around that much money at that location. I keep asking myself what is different about this location? What do we have to offer that Hamblen County is missing? I think that we need to look to and plan for the future and that may include some type of business or commerce park. But, the fact remains that any investment in a business or commerce park does not come with a guarantee that business or commerce will follow.
I am a gambler at heart and don’t mind a little speculation. Most people will agree that there is a definite correlation between risk and reward. But, the simple truth is that timing is everything and the time for this location may have passed when Hamblen County made their move and placed a similar type of park at the very edge of Jefferson County, just a hop, skip and jump from the proposed location in White Pine. And then again, maybe I am wrong. Maybe we have something that they don’t and I just don’t know about it.
Here is what I do know. Business is good for the community and business begets business. Those quality of life things that we would like to see in our community like more retail and restaurants- More choices for health care and grocery shopping and more things to see and do- follow the trail of business. If we want one we have to attract the other. Case in point is the Town of Dandridge. While the rest of the County was wondering why their sales tax took a hit in November and December, Dandridge saw an increase thanks to business that moved into the area. Sales tax is good and there is money to do things that benefit the community like boat docks and water upgrades. Yes. I know that those things may technically come from other revenue sources, but without a healthy sales tax money is tight in other areas. Many streams filling the same pool. A healthy flow makes the water rise faster, no matter where it comes from.
So, business is good. Community friendly business is better. And business that doesn’t cost so much at the outset that you thirst to death before you can drink is the best kind of business. Is the Commerce Park going to cost a chunk of change? Yes. Can we afford to do it? Can we afford to not do it? I just don’t know. I suppose I am just waiting for something to convince me and until then I will remain cautiously balanced on the fence. It is not a place that I often find myself but sometime the smartest move is no move, at least until there is a good reason to go with the flow or fight upstream.