Residents of South Shore lack local voice
Today’s SP Times article by Ernest Hooper titled “Residents of South Shore lack local voice” includes a few comments he got from me in a half-hour long telephone interview.
What he did not include was my strong concern that various county “economic development” plans, task forces, a tax referendum and a CPA Amendment will actually result in economic harm to south Hillsborough County.
- Long-range plans to create incentives for high-wage industries to locate in the I-4 expansion area will make south county that much less attractive to those same industries. South Hillsborough County will be relegated to remain a bedroom community through at least 2035, forcing people to commute to work instead of finding work close to home.
- Long-range plans to establish light-rail centered on downtown Tampa as a economic incentive for business enterprise to locate near rail stations will not only serve to encourage existing south county businesses to relocate to Tampa, it will act as a disincentive for new business to want to locate anywhere else.
- Most indicative of a lack of representation since the start of this current recession however is that unemployment and under-employment have gone up dramatically as has home foreclosures. Tax income to The County has fallen to dangerously low levels. The citizens of Hillsborough County whom the BOCC represents, not just South County have been saying for the last 3 years “We need jobs NOW!”
The one best fix to all our immediate economic woes is to put Hillsborough back to work. We have 77,000 county residents out of work with perhaps twice that many working only part-time. People with jobs buy houses and pay property taxes; they buy goods and pay sales taxes. They appreciate their elected representatives and re-elect them.
With all the collected wisdom of Hillsborough County government it seems we still cannot figure out how to actually encourage business enterprise to locate here and bring with them new, better jobs for our citizens throughout the county.
Hillsborough County has millions of square feet of high quality commercial and light-industrial space within the Urban Services Area that is ready to be occupied or built-to-suit yet we don’t seem to know exactly how much or where it is located. It is the height of arrogance and irresponsibility for The County to spend valuable time, money and energy trying to convert rural I-4 for distant commercial uses while similar space goes wanting for tenants and our citizens go wanting jobs.
Come November, voters will recognize that it is not prudent to buy a petulant child a shiny new train to go under the tree when they don’t have jobs and soon may not have homes, just as it is not prudent to tear up the streets of Tampa for 5 years to throw BILLIONS of dollars at a light-rail project to get people to jobs they no longer have from homes they no longer own. How many people formerly working at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. will not be riding that train downtown?
<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen