There often has been a certain level of tension whenever economic development is discussed in Madison County.
Although there’s general agreement on the need for job retention and creation efforts, consensus sometimes has been lacking on how to pursue those efforts. Specifically, the issue of Norfolk vs. the county’s smaller communities comes into play.
Economic development efforts have been structured in a variety of ways over the decades. For many years, it was a case of every community doing its own thing. More recently, Madison County has been asked — and agreed — to provide some funding for a county-wide economic development effort.
That creates the need for more collaboration. It also understandably raises the question of whether Norfolk — because of its size as compared to the county’s other communities — is receiving an inordinate share of the benefits of such funding.
That’s why we applaud the efforts being taken by representatives of the county, Norfolk and other communities to share information and seek common ground.
Reality dictates that some economic development projects are better suited for a larger community. The opposite is true, too.
More important than that, however, is the fact that when a company decides to expand in Norfolk, other communities in the county will benefit, too, because the persons filling the new jobs won’t all choose to live in Norfolk.
Plus, with unemployment hovering at or below 3 percent in Madison County, workforce numbers are tight. Any new jobs created anywhere in the county may need to draw upon individuals who live in neighboring towns.
A recent gathering in Tilden of those involved in economic development efforts highlighted the attractions that community has to offer — such as quality schools, affordable housing, quality-of-life amenities and a low crime rate. Similar gatherings have been or will be held in other Madison County communities.
The idea is to make economic development in Madison County as much of a “all for one and one for all” effort as possible.
Because as competitive as job recruitment can be, a region that presents a unified front and can tout advantages and attractions on a county-wide basis has that much better a chance of becoming successful.
Let’s make sure that Norfolk and Madison County are competing for jobs against the likes of Grand Island, Lincoln or North Platte and never against itself.