Publisher's Note ó By Jody Reese

Outsider might be best

by Jody Reese

Itís no secret that Manchester is experiencing incredible growth. Businesses and people from all over are looking to come here, from national big-box retailers to bars.

However, much of this growth is haphazard. Itís good to see the big retailers take an interest in Manchester, but they need to be matched with boutique retail and job growth in science, technology and finance.

Thatís not happening. If fact, layoffs have been the norm lately. Much of the job growth is low-paying retail or services and, while any job creation is good, those kinds of jobs canít keep our local economy strong.

Higher-paying jobs mean rents and housing prices will remain stable. That encourages landlords to reinvest in their properties. Higher-paying jobs also put more money into local restaurants, retail shops and helps community non-profits raise more money. Sustainable healthy growth cannot happen without good jobs and, sadly, our current economic-development model is not fostering such growth. Thatís because no one is at the wheel.

Manchester needs someone to manage its growth. It needs an economic developer. Aldermen recently gave the go-ahead to fill the ED position that has been vacant since Jay Taylor retired last year but they insist, to Mayor Bob Bainesí chagrin, that the job be filled by an insider.

While itís good for morale to consider current city employees in any job search, it doesnít make sense to exclude qualified candidates working in other city governments or businesses. This is an important position. Manchester needs someone to balance the growth in big retail and restaurants with good paying jobs. The best person to do that might be someone from away.

An economic developer from outside the city will have a fresh perspective. Many large companies specifically do not chose leaders from inside the company because a fresh set of eyes can help a company better position itself in the marketplace. Manchester should think of itself as a large company in that sense, and look for someone who sees all of our strengths and weaknesses.

In speaking with a few aldermen I got the sense that they think it would be good enough to hire someone from within. Itís come to a point where ďgood enoughĒ is not good enough. Voters need to demand more from our city government and more from our aldermen. After all, this is our city, and those guys work for us. Letís make sure they do.

óJody Reese

 
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