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County missing out after rejecting RCI

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

Those Harrison County councilmembers and others in the area who voted against joining the Regional Cities Initiative must know something the rest of us do not.
That, or they have a fear that the worst possible conspiracy theories out there will come true and the evil people on the Regional Development Authority ‘ people the council would have a say in choosing, and throwing out, if necessary ‘ will tax them for every dime they have and take over the county both politically and geographically.
Because otherwise, everything I heard during the-way-too-many hours listening to discussions about the subject revealed that it was a good opportunity for Harrison County. All of the questionable aspects of the plan, such as eminent domain, taxing power, mandated financial county participation, were put to rest. None of that would be allowed by the RDA.
Another argument against the initiative was the county wouldn’t receive any funding without putting up money itself.
But, the county would have a chance to vote on any funding requested, so, if it was a project it didn’t like or chose not to participate in, then it could simply vote ‘no’ and move on.
But if it was a project that would be widely supported by the county, like the one proposed in the regional cities plan involving a technology center with university partnerships, then, yes, the county would have to put up funding to receive the matching dollars from the state.
That would be a good investment of county funds and something the council and all residents, especially those who work or study here, could be proud of.
Even if the state went a different direction and picked another region instead of ours for the funding, at least the county would have shown its willingness to participate in regional economic development.
Now, when companies are looking to locate to the region, you can bet other counties/cities will point to our vote on the regional cities and say, ‘You don’t want to locate there; they don’t cooperate in regional projects.’
It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not; it will likely be used against Harrison County.
In this hand-cuffed economy with more regulations and difficulties than ever for starting and expanding businesses, local government incentives are vital to attracting companies and all the positives that come with it.
That’s how Areva Pharmaceuticals Inc. was drawn to Lanesville.
That’s how the connector road was built between the Walmart Supercenter/Old Capitol Centre and Corydon-Ramsey Road, making it possible for the Trilogy Health Center to plant its stakes in Corydon.
Folks throughout the county praise the Indian Creek Trail and its old rehabbed bridge. It was even used in a recent council meeting to show how we can fund projects without such silliness as Regional Cities. Although they’d be shocked and dismayed to know that President Barack Obama’s ‘stimulus’ plan paid for the rehabilitation portion of the bridge project.
I’m on board with why the Tea Party, whose members were/are ardently against the Regional Cities idea, was created and what it stands for; we are already taxed enough and need to get back to our constitutional roots, but that doesn’t mean all government is bad.
Government isn’t what made, or makes, this country great. The people are.
But good government is there to help, and sometimes it can, believe it or not, have a good idea or two.
The Regional Cities Initiative is one of those good ones, especially considering all the risk factors were squashed.
Hopefully, Harrison County doesn’t miss out on more than it already has.

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