Insight

Open Letter: SPLOST Crucial for Economic Development

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Dear Columbusites,

I am in the commercial real estate business, and often deal with companies that are looking to locate, or relocate, in Columbus. These companies do not have to choose our city. They have the world to pick from, and we have one place to sell them on.

When NCR, a computer hardware, software, and electronics company, was deciding on where to build their 300,000 square foot manufacturing plant, Columbus made it into the finals.

In the end, it came down to two cities, and Columbus was selected over Singapore. This was an incredible feat for a city of our size. NCR has now built two facilities and brought over 800 jobs to us. 

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We are competing for companies on a global scale, and we need advantages. Our last competitor, Singapore, is one of the world’s major commercial and financial centers; with 5.4 million people and the 5th busiest port in the world.

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When companies are looking to locate, quality of life (school systems) and workforce tops their list. They want to know the community they are choosing to invest in, already invests in itself. 

Our public school system is the foundation of our workforce. Ninety-five percent of Columbus’ students are educated in our public school system.

We have nine colleges and technical schools in the Columbus area. The majority of their students come from our public schools.

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We have the opportunity to make a $192,000,000 infusion into our school system, and ultimately workforce, by passing the SPLOST.

This infusion will be used to build new schools, upgrade our school’s computers and information technology systems, improve sports facilities, even $10,000 would go to schools for musical instruments, and so much more. Thus, giving our students education and advantages other areas don’t experience.

Education is a key to our economic growth and progress.

Columbus is not a city that turns down a challenge, or an opportunity, look at the Chattahoochee River. We invested $26 million and transformed something we took for granted, in to a recreational jewel any city in the world would love to call their own.

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When Ft. Benning decided to build a new Infantry Museum, Columbus stepped up to the plate.  We raised $42,000,000 in private funds, to match Ft. Benning’s investment, and now we have a world-class museum that has over 300,000 annual visitors!

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We need to continue this forward momentum. Columbus is known for its Public-Private Partnerships and the SPLOST is another opportunity to partner with our school system to make it even better.

Think about the impact of these $26 million (Chattahoochee River) and $42 million (Infantry Museum) investments on our city. Now what can we do for our school system with a $198,000,000 investment?!

This is the kind of investment that shows how we are committed to education and growth in our community.

We are competing on a global scale, we have proven that we can compete and we can win.

Let’s take this opportunity to invest in ourselves, again. There are companies looking at us right now, and we don’t even know it. Let’s take this opportunity to show them how vested we are in our community.

Please vote yes for the SPLOST and let’s keep Columbus moving forward.  You can participate in early voting at the Citizen’s Service Center on Macon Road, or at your usual polling place on March 17th.

Respectfully,

Ernie Smallman

 

Pictures by: WLTZ, Wikipeda, CSU, AmericanWhitewater.org, Batson-cook.com, Joyoftaxlaw

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Bill Reaves

    March 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Well said Ernie! Thanks, Bill Reaves

  2. Lucius Morton

    March 6, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Well said Ernie. This is about economic developments, bringing our educational systems and facilities into the 21st century and it is the right thing to do for our Kids! I am voting YES, enthusiasticly I might add!!!!!!

  3. Bebe Bahnsen

    March 9, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Ernie Smallman is correct to say that major companies look at our schools when they decide to place plants or offices here, but I wonder how much they look at our students’ grades. We all know that our schools are, pardon the expression, failing. We fail to teach our students in so many ways. Look at the number of schools that face state takeover because the students’ grades are abysmally low. Look at where these schools are. Think about that.
    We need to spend money on education, not on new buildings. We need to spend money to pay teachers better, and we need to pay others, including school bus drivers and maintenance workers better.
    And we need to spend money for more teacher training and more books and materials. This is a problem for the state legislature, but they do what we tell them we want them to do. We need to tell them that the SPLOST tax has become absurd. Our school leaders seem to think that new places for children will mean better learning. We can see that is not true.
    Let’s tell the state legislature, the people we choose, what we need. We need help to be sure our children are ready for work when new companies arrive.

  4. Marquette McKnight

    March 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Well said Columbus is a great city because people say YES about a lot of things. Because people like you guys take your time and energy and resources to make our city better! Thanks for your leadership.

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