Tim Poynter, City Commission Candidate Group 4
What is your position on growth and economic development within the City of Fernandina Beach?
Smart growth and right-scaled economic development are the keys to guaranteeing both stability and prosperity for our community now and in the future. The alternative is to rely on our increasing number of retirees to foot the largest share of our tax burden. None of us wants that to happen. Instead, we must be able to find ways to attract new businesses that can offer good paying jobs to our children and grandchildren so that young families can continue to afford to live in our city. At the same time, we must recognize that because we are land-locked on an island, we cannot offer large tracts of land for major industrial activity. While we are grateful to both of our mills for their significant contributions to our local economy since the late 1930’s, the time for development such as this has passed.
In order to attract the kind of growth this community deserves it will require the city to invest in itself. We must solve infrastructure problems relating to storm water and drainage problems. We must invest more than we do in maintenance of our public buildings and spaces. We must not cut funds necessary to keep our streets and sidewalks in good shape. It is critical that prospective businesses see that we believe in ourselves and we are willing to make investments such as these to demonstrate both our pride in our city and our willingness to share the costs of business development.
We must also find more ways to make Fernandina Beach a more business friendly community. The city’s Community Development Department has made great strides in streamlining the permitting processes. But we can become even more helpful by working closely with potential developers and businesses from recruitment to their first day opening, helping them identify and solve problems that provide obstacles to their goals. We can be a more active partner with the Nassau Economic Development Board and other business-related organizations.
Future economic activity will probably involve redevelopment of existing commercial areas throughout the city. We might consider incentives such as waiving fees if businesses redevelop a particularly neglected parcel or guarantee a certain number of jobs. I support efforts currently ramping up to attract more businesses to our riverfront Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) as well as the creation of an overlay zoning district to help the 8th Street corridor become more attractive.
The bottom line is that the city needs to create an environment that business can flourish in. Businesses need customers and our city needs revenues. Let’s work together and make that happen.
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth of seven questions in a series posed to candidates for the Fernandina Beach City Commission. The answers come to our readers unedited and in the candidates own words. We rotate the order of candidates from week to week. Ed Boner and incumbent Tim Poynter will seek Group 4, John Campbell Elwell and Pat K Gass will seek Group 5.
October 16, 2012 5:16 a.m.