We get bombarded with ED television commercials on a daily basis but this blog isn't about the dysfunction stuff sold on TV, it's about economic development in Cambridge. Headline news in Cambridge has ED firmly in the local spotlight. After reading the newspaper account of the last city council meeting, here is what one of the areas newer residents (me) got out of it...
Other than the town representatives, I didn't read of people thinking the 77 acre residential/commercial development plan makes much sense at the moment. There is property already available that isn't being developed, blighted property is a problem in town, and some streets are damaged while some are not even paved. It sounds like the city council may not be sure where they can spend the funds available legally either.
As an outsider, my opinion is worthless I know, but we moved here for a reason, and it wasn't because of the economic development plans of the town. We moved to the country to get away from development so I ask what is it REALLY you want your town to become? Since there is an economic development group in town, I'd say that growth is what the town has in mind at least to some extent.
First off, why would someone want to move to Cambridge? Is it the fine shopping experiences available here? How about the variety of fine dining establishments? The many cultural opportunities? Nope... probably not prime reasons for most folks considering a move to Cambridge. I'd think more that people would want to move to Cambridge because of the schools, small town atmosphere, and a job.
The new hospital addition could be a major catalyst for the town in my opinion. The recent re-opening of the ethanol plant shows that a commodity based economy can bite you when the commodity doesn't sell well. My hope is that the ethanol plant goes great guns, but you have to admit it's track record isn't the best just yet at under three years of age. The hospital will attract workers and there should be some place for them to buy, rent, or build. Not everyone wants to build a new house next to an old house just because the lot is available. Not everyone wants a house for that matter knowing that a rental unit is what they really need. Some folks want a big building lot, some don't.
Development won't happen overnight. Without a local economy generating numerous local high paying jobs, people end up going after the job and either commute or move away. Without the jobs that can support development and growth of the town, there seems little reason for folks of working age to move here. Outward migration will continue to happen without new job creation.
We see many folks working more than one job to make ends meet around here. As near as I can tell, a lot of farms don't support the farmers family without some additional income either. By a city slickers standard, that says that workers have to want to live here and it's not a place people think of when searching for opportunity. Seems to me that ED would be wise to find ways to attract new jobs in the area that are not agriculture based. Ag business is of course where we are now, but it doesn't have to be that way forever.