Daviess County Fiscal Court (DCFC) held Budget Work Session meetings in April. One topic of discussion became a serious concern as a taxpayer of this community. The DCFC has decided to reduce the amount of money it contributes to the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) claiming:
1 – there has been no Return on Investment (ROI) from the EDC
2 – no site visits since September 2021
3 – recent jobs added to other communities outside Daviess County
4 – recent personnel turnover in the EDC
Therefore, we need to do some due diligence and explore these claims. As far as ROI, you can drive around this community and clearly see the impact of the EDC. Since 2017, there has been more than $500M in investment and expansion projects with over 600 jobs created. These claims are not exaggerated as stated by DCFC. The information can be found on DCFC’s own website, state documents submitted by the organizations, and other media outlets.
The increase in jobs not only provides additional occupational tax revenue for the County and other trickle-down effects, but the investments in the property also increase the assessed value of these properties, therefore increasing the amount of property tax revenue. Based on the change in PVA data due to these investments, it is clear that for the $184k/year invested, that the County alone has gained roughly $500k+/year in tax revenue. That is an almost triple return on the County’s investment. I don’t know of a single person who would not want their financial advisor to continue these types of investments.
Secondly, as far as having no site visits since 2021, it can be narrowed down to two factors. Companies looking to move expect a minimum of 100 acres, and most expect 200+. Daviess County did not have that amount of land available until the EDC was able to secure options on land in 2022. Obtaining land or land options is crucial in attracting new industry to our area. The lack of available land alone has cost billions in potential investments and thousands of jobs from organizations looking to call Daviess County home. Additionally, the Green River rickhouse debacle sent the message to the State and/or potential investors that we are not open for business; and once it hit the internet, it has been seen by everyone doing a search of our community. It will be years before the community recovers from this PR disaster that was created by the DCFC.
Third, the statement that there were job announcements made for Hopkinsville and Paducah even though Daviess County met the land requirement can be incorrectly interpreted as the EDC not performing as intended. Although we may have the appropriately sized land for this project, what was left out was the fact that Daviess County was simply not within the required radius of the end user of the product. Due to this fact alone, Daviess County was not eligible for those jobs.
Fourth, the personnel turnover at the EDC has been spun as a negative. In reality, what it shows is that the EDC board has been diligent in attracting and hiring talented individuals to move our community forward. Because of this, organizations have recognized that talent within the EDC and therefore pursued those individuals for their organizations. DCFC should be thankful and not dismissive for EDC attracting a talent pool.
Finally, it is neither “self-serving” nor a “disservice” to want to provide opportunities for my child to make that decision as to whether they want to stay in this community or not. Shouldn’t WANTING our residents to have their needs met here and want to live here be THE GOAL for a local government? What kind of long-term plan for any city/county doesn’t consider quality of life and building the tax base to lower the burden on residents?