Easton Mayor Robert Willey has moved to shift town funding from the Discover Easton business promotion group and redirect those funds to the Easton Economic Development Corp.
The town has funded those two groups to help promote local businesses and attract new ones as well as jobs.
Willey wants to earmark the town’s economic development to EEDC.
The COVID-19 pandemic, its economic and social impacts rightfully require the town to relook at its business recruitment, marketing and jobs producing strategies. The economic situation created by the virus and all the shutdowns, closures and pullbacks in consumer and business spending require immediate, innovative and game-changing actions at all levels.
In case you missed it, the world has changed this year. This has required all sorts of businesses, nonprofits and other organizations – including local governments and economic development groups — to rethink strategies and approaches.
The mayor and other elected officials also need to relook at where they spend taxpayer dollars, how those funds are allocated and bangs for the buck. COVID-19 is causing some major budget challenges. We should see plenty of fiscal examinations of how and where taxpayers’ money is spent. It is our money.
We need to have coordinated, cohesive, productive and jobs producing economic development strategies.
There are legitimate questions here in Easton, and in other jurisdictions, to whether current economic development strategies and structures deliver that.
Old business models — including when it comes to business attraction and job creation — might have to be ditched for something that works better.
The town of Easton needs to be looking at a new dynamic and results-driven approach to helping existing businesses survive the pandemic and how to attract new ones.
We need those efforts and those leading them to be on the same page with our elected officials, key employers, entrepreneurs and key economic drivers. Unfortunately, that has not always happened with Discover Easton and our local efforts.
Our town has a creative and cool historic downtown. Wehave a great quality of life and a vibrant arts community. Weneed new strategies and efforts to bring that message to businesses, site selectors and entrepreneurs as well as creative and innovative workers.
The pandemic has created the dynamic of more workers doing their jobs from home. That situation combined with all the social unrest of this year is leading small business owners, innovators and professional workers to rethink their lives in big cities.
Places such as Easton should be at the top of their list. We are close to three major metropolitan areas (D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia) with New York City just up the seaboard — but without their traffic, social unrest and stresses. We need new energy for our economic development efforts.
The year 2020 is requiring lots of hard looks in the mirror. It also requires new ways of thinking and new approaches.
The mayor’s changes our approach but could be a more effective and more efficient paradigm shift that the town and our economy very much need.