Congratulations to Frey Farms for getting a steal on the spec building and land and I wish them nothing but the best of luck.
I believe, and I heard this from other residents, that the issue with the deal was not the fact that the community didn't want Frey Farms to come to town, which Councilman Neal Bradley argued against on Tuesday evening as he gave several good reasons for Frey to come to town.
I believe the issue that the community had with the transaction was the fact that we are practically giving the land and building away with no real promise of jobs. We are practically giving away land and a building that was purchased for an industrial park and purchased with tax payer dollars to aid in bringing in industry.
Hop in the DeLorean, we're taking a trip. Destination: 2003.
The City of Kennett proposed the passage of a tax bond to purchase 116 acres of land from the Wright Estate and build a spec building to assist with bringing industry to Kennett following the closing of Emerson Electric and the decision by the Wise Company to return to Rector, Ark.
Although it had its opponents, the bond passed, the land was purchased and the spec building was constructed in 2005.
And the land and building sat there for nearly six years. This was one determining factor in at least one council members decision to vote "Yes" for the Frey Farms deal.
Get back in the car, we're heading out again. Destination: 1986.
In 1986 the City of Kennett, again in a bid to bring industry to town, developed its first spec building program. The building was constructed in 1987.
And it sat there for nearly nine years before Custom Steel purchased it.
When the bond was being discussed in 2003, Jim Baker, former executive director of the Kennett Chamber of Commerce said, "One of the deciding factors [Custom Steel came to Kennett] was the shell building. It would greatly reduce the amount of construction time needed to get into production. The building purchase was completed in 1996. The final tally: one shell building equaled two industries for Kennett."
Jan McElwrath, who was the executive director of the Kennett Chamber of Commerce when the bond was being discussed said she supported the bond because, "We would be very competitive with towns all around if we have an available building and can develop an industrial park. If we can't we will be left out and won't get into the game."
Are we now out of the game following Tuesday's meeting? We no longer have an industrial park in which to play ball. Does that count us out? I hope not.
Maybe, Frey Farms will bring other industries to Kennett. I hope so.
To the members of the council, I wish you no ill will. You all have their reasons for voting the way you did. Perhaps Frey Farms will turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Kennett. With the deal that was given, I truly hope so.
As Crafton said Tuesday evening, "Let's hope and pray for the best."
George Anderson is the managing editor of the Daily Dunklin Democrat.