Letter to the editor — March 31, 2017

Dear editor,
I think that some major business and political mistakes have been made.
First off, people, organizations, and politicians have gotten involved in business where they don’t belong. By no means can anyone in business say that the apartment complex at the old hospital site is a success.
What is happening is, everybody is trying to force these things to happen and are throwing every business principal into the wind.
Just the fact that you built apartments so that a grocery store would come to Iola is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard.
Now we have politicians actually saying that G&W “is in the catbird seat” and that they “have us over a barrel.”
Whoever put them in that seat or over that barrel should resign or be fired.
I have a bad feeling that you are going to throw more money at this — don’t do it, this is just another basic business mistake.
Something else that I don’t understand is why your bids are coming in so far over the  projected budget. Who is giving you the project estimates? I bid multi-million dollar projects all the time. It is rare, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is rare that they run 35 percent over estimates. I think once again it’s because we are having people forcing the issues and not taking an objective look at the project.
I would also like to say that comparing a grocery store to Russell Stovers is one of the most idiotic things that I’ve ever heard. There is no comparison. As for our new economic development director, when I talk economic development, grocery store has never come to my mind, or anyone’s mind I was talking to.
I believe the ultimate litmus test is, is it working. I’ve seen everything Thrive is doing, I actually love some of the things they’re doing, but throwing money at business to come to town is not working.
I think they are overstepping their original mission.
I know and have talked to every one of the business owners that have shut down in the last year. Not one of them was approached by any one of the organizations that are trying to get new business to town, and offered tax abatements or were told that buyers were being sought.
There are more businesses closing than opening.
I think you’re all putting your energy and resources in the wrong places. I know we have to look for new, but you better start concentrating on what you have, because right now you are going backwards.
Don Erbert,
Iola, Kan.

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