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Editorial: Board shows little initiative

Rowan County commissioners should come clean on the Rowan Jobs Initiative. If their sole concern about the volunteer group was one board member’s potential conflict of interest, they could have made that point without stripping the group of $75,000.
But actions speak louder than words. By reneging on the group’s funding for 2008-09, the commissioners revealed their level of enthusiasm for the entire Jobs Initiative concept. Zilch. No thanks. Go fish.
It’s too bad the county couldn’t have backed out more smoothly, without raising doubts about one individual. But these are the county commissioners we have, for now. They have a flair for the dramatic.
There were clear signs from the beginning that some commissioners didn’t like the Committee of 100 and the Rowan Jobs Initiative. In 2004, when Chairman Arnold Chamberlain and Commissioner Tina Hall ran for office, they said they wanted to see measurable results before funding the Rowan-Salisbury Economic Development Commission or the then-new Committee of 100, which launched the Jobs Initiative. A Post story paraphrased Chamberlain saying he would not increase spending for the EDC.
“And he made clear he will not fund jobs initiatives,” the story said. “Having two groups gives the appearance that Rowan leaders don’t know what they’re doing.
” ‘Who’s in charge?’ he asks.”
For about six more months, Chamberlain is in charge ó of the county commission, anyway. Considering his campaign stance, it’s a wonder the county continued supporting Rowan Jobs Initiative as long as it did.
Now that the county is out, the people who do support the Rowan Jobs Initiative will soldier on. There’s too much at stake to let this tempest quiet the voices that try to promote Rowan and Salisbury in a positive way.
And many of them do it at their own expense. Through the Committee of 100 and the Jobs Initiative, businesses and individuals put up their own money ó about $500 each, initially ó to market the county and attract jobs. This is in addition to the taxes they’re already paying to help support the EDC, schools, law enforcement and all the other services local government provides. Since the Committee of 100 formed in 2004, it has received $330,000 in donations from its members. The county and city have given $325,000 and 150,000, respectively, to support the program.
The city intends to continue funding the effort, and Jobs Initiative leaders have a plan to tout one of Rowan’s greatest natural resources, the Yadkin River. They’ll do so without county funding, even though their aim is to benefit all Rowan citizens ó the Committee of 130,000, you might say ó by improving the county’s image and attracting more jobs. They deserve the community’s support and encouragement. There will always be a few complainers who sit back and take pot shots. Their own lack of action says a lot more than their words.

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