Publisher's Note — It's Just Good Business
It’s just good business There’s been a lot of hoopla in Manchester lately about the 17-acre site of the closed Jac Pac meat processing facility and its prime spot along the Merrimack River.

In a deal disclosed a few weeks ago, the city has agreed to purchase the land for $3.5 million, less than half its assessed value. Approval from aldermen is expected, and the deal should close by the end of the month. The land will be paid for by the city with money already in the bank from the sale of other city properties. The land purchase isn’t expected to have an impact on property taxes.

The city intends to study the property—a key tract just south of the riverfront ballpark—to find the best role for it to play in the ongoing redevelopment of Manchester’s riverfront. Some say city government has no business doing a deal that takes land off the tax rolls. The business of government isn’t business, they say.

Well, they’re wrong. In this day and age, the business of government is business, and especially the business of economic development. Without political leadership, key projects that drive the regional economy and benefit us all just won’t happen.

So the Tyson land deal is another chance for Manchester’s government to take an active role in the city’s future. Mayor Baines and the aldermen supporting this purchase should be congratulated for long-range vision.

Also, critics fail to see this deal in its proper context. When Tyson bought the plant just a few years ago, it accepted stewardship for more than 500 jobs in our community. Last winter, when Tyson shut it down with just 60 days notice, it recognized the need to help the city with the aftermath.

Fortunately, many former Jac Pac workers have already found work, and a good system is in place for retraining others. But still, you don’t remove 500 jobs from a local economy without an impact.

To its credit, Tyson recognized this, and agreed to sell the property to the city for half its value. Granted, the deal was helped by high-level prodding by the likes of U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, whose personal calls got the attention of the executives in Tyson’s Arkansas headquarters.

Now, the city can work with the business community to create something of lasting value in which everyone wins—the city, the developers and the people.

—Jody Reese


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