When it comes to economic development I always have my ear to the ground. So when the news came out that the county was going to offer a tax rebate to the Honda dealership I took notice.
Initially, I was disappointed because I thought since it was already a well-established business and had received a $300,000 discount on the county property purchase, that was a sufficient break. Then after discussing it in the barbershop, a theme developed and an idea occurred to me.
People were saying why do the powers that be always try to hook the new customer with the great deals and show absolutely no loyalty to the existing customers who have been paying over the long haul.
I thought, “Hey, there is some merit to that argument.” It made me re-think the tax credits that Honda was going to receive for creating new jobs. Instead of our local government pursuing outside business sources for economic development, why not promote from within?
Businesses do it all the time. Most of the time it makes good business sense because the newly promoted already know the system and the training is less extensive.
I would like to pose the question: Why don’t we grow businesses from within our community? Strong businesses that show a promise for growth and job creation could really benefit from the incentives that are being offered to outside entities.
Additionally, this boost would benefit the community at large because of a quicker return on development investment and it wouldn’t re-create the wheel. Because while it can be beneficial at times to go fishing, you don’t always catch that big fish or, in this case, business.
It takes years from start to finish to get an outside business up and running and employing people. Not to mention that the reinvestment of a local business is huge.
Small-business owners tend to be very loyal to their community and have a vested interest in the area.
I am sorry to see that the local government didn’t see the investment opportunities that were available with the very successful Umpqua Oats. (Full disclosure: I absolutely love its oatmeal!)
When I went into Costco a few weeks ago I was so surprised to see Umpqua Oats on the shelf. I quickly went from surprise to happy for the owners.
And that quickly moved to sadness, because I knew with that kind of exposure and demand they were probably going to be leaving Roseburg. So I was not surprised when I saw the article that said the company had outgrown its Roseburg roots.
This is a real loss for our community, losing a successful business that could be providing much-needed jobs for our area — not to mention the name recognition of Umpqua being attached to Roseburg.
I would like to think that our local leaders will see this as an opportunity for learning and consider more investment in the existing local business community.
Finally, I would also hope that when we do have a new outside business develop here, that we will only offer benefits based on a long-term commitment/contract. Tax breaks that are spread out over 20 years would ensure they, too, have roots here and won’t want to close the doors just when their dedicated employees are getting settled into their new houses and signing 30-year mortgages.
We all want a safe, prosperous community where we can all live and grow!
Misty Ross of Roseburg is a barber and the owner of the Hair Garage in Roseburg. She is on committees for the Roseburg Visitors and Convention Commission and the Downtown Roseburg Association and belongs to Think Local Umpqua. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.