London received very good news recently with General Dynamics and Serco bringing a total of 1,634 jobs to Laurel County. Congratulations to London, Laurel County, its team of elected and appointed officials, and the London-Laurel County Industrial Development Authority as well as local business people, who all know how to recruit business. They do an outstanding job of promoting their area’s attributes and utilizing their political and local resources.
It is a shame the same cannot be said about Corbin. The bottom line is London works much harder and smarter for the businesses they recruit and works as a team instead of seeking individual acclaim or nothing at all. While London is a fine community, it offers very few advantages over Corbin. Clearly, London wants to succeed and prosper more than Corbin does — the proof is in the efforts and results. Corbin officials say they want to succeed in recruiting business and job creation but their actions, or lack thereof, indicate otherwise.
You can’t help people who don’t feel they need help or need to do a better job. Some people feel if you tell them they need to improve at something, even if the facts are staring them right in the face, it is some sort of knock on them or the city. Michael Jordon tried to improve constantly even though he was already best basketball player in the world. That is the difference between mediocrity and success, and that is why Corbin doesn’t grow and prosper.
While there will be some Corbin and Whitley County residents who will get jobs at General Dynamics and Serco, it is London, Laurel County and their residents who will receive the major benefits. These recruitment successes will attract more new businesses to London, help strengthen the housing market, bring new sales revenues to businesses and new tax revenues to Laurel County, which will pay for improved city and county services, help hire additional law enforcement, and provide pay raises to city and county employees. If those 1,600 jobs were to pay a conservative average of $20,000 per year, that is $32 million in new wages paid and approximately $320,000 in additional occupational tax revenue for Laurel County, in addition to the approximately $12.5 million in existing annual revenue. There appears to be several people in Corbin who feel that our community does not need any of the above, although I’m sure it’s not our local businesses, police departments, fire departments, or city employees, some of whom I’ve been told haven’t received pay raises in five years.
It is time for the Southeast Kentucky Regional Industrial Development Authority’s board members to either do their job or step down and allow others with a stronger passion for area growth and who possess greater business knowledge to serve. If not, then Corbin needs to dissolve this commission and save the approximate $150,000 annual cost to the city. Not one new business has been brought into the Southeastern Kentucky Regional business park since 2005, and every member on this board should be embarrassed. The “Reported new job creation since 2010” on the Kentucky Department of Economic Development’s website indicates London/Laurel County created 2,777 - 2,937 jobs compared to Corbin/Whitley-Knox-Laurel County’s embarrassing 28 — 168 total jobs created. Industrial commissions, boards and directors must be accountable for the economic success — or failure — of their communities.
This is not just inclusive to Industry either. For every restaurant such as Cheddar’s, Starbucks, Gondolier or Steak & Shake that chooses London over Corbin translates to $30,000 to $100,000 in lost restaurant tax revenue per year, per restaurant — the majority of which is paid by travelers from other areas — not to mention other lost tax revenue.
I’m not bidding or running for anything nor am I a politician. I’m just sick of the excuses. But it’s not going to change until some people who promised to improve how Corbin conducts its business grow a backbone and keep their promises. If not, the same old way of conducting business will continue to cost the area jobs and hurt the local economy. Corbin and its citizens, public workers, and local businesses will eventually pay the price for this failure.
Bob Terrell Jr.,