Economic Development is a subject of much discussion, confusion and misinformation. I have read and heard city council keeps them out. I have read and heard folks claim the taxes in Goose Creek keep them out. I have read and heard folks claim there is no lunch crowd, and that’s why they don’t come. None of this is true. So why aren’t more full service restaurants here, along with more retail and recreation/entertainment options? Because Mr. Heitzler doesn’t want them here, so it has never been a priority.
How does it work? People seem to think that Outback Steakhouse knows where Goose Creek is and will come if it is a good investment. They seem to think that they have number crunchers that tell them when to move into an area. That’s not exactly how it works. There are development companies that work regionally. They identify locations in their region where one of their clients would fit. They then present to their client their thoughts and statistics that support their findings. Often they work with a city’s or county’s Economic Development Department.
Ok, so now we know it is often someone local that identifies opportunities for national brands. Why aren’t they coming to Goose Creek? This is a really good question considering that since at least 1990, Goose Creek has been a diverse, highly educated, high earning community more than capable of supporting this kind of investment. I should point out, this holds true for local groups as well. Who would not like to see a 5 Loaves Restaurant in Goose Creek? They have never even considered us to my knowledge. The problem is two-fold. 1) Image and 2) Lack of interest by our leadership.
What do you think Goose Creek’s image is to the rest of the region? Many don’t even know where it is and others view Goose Creek as poor, crime ridden and unsophisticated. Now, you may think, “Why do we care what other people think of us?” And, there is merit to that. We are proud people and we know who we are. But, who is going to invest in such a community? Goose Creek has never been a consideration for these folks. It’s not that they think maybe Goose Creek and then decide otherwise. Goose Creek has never been a consideration for most companies.
Lack of interest is simple. Economic Development has never been of any interest to Mr. Heitzler, much less a priority. He has been quoted saying he didn’t care if another business ever moved into Goose Creek again. He has compared Goose Creek to living on a resort, much like Kiawah Island. He pointed out, there are no stores or restaurants on the island. Those people leave for their shopping and dining and come back to their homes. That’s fine, if your average home value is $2million and you don’t mind incredibly high taxes.
So how do we get there?
1) Effective use of and collaboration between the EDAC, the City, our business community. Together, these groups will engage the region and commercial developers and show them what success awaits them in Goose Creek. Moreover, we must engage Berkeley County and work together. Our Mayor should work with the county, not against them.
2) Strategic Planning: Specific, Measurable, Achievable prioritizing Growth Management and Economic Development.
3) Develop a realistic land use plan, including commercial, residential, industrial, recreational, and preserved green space; and work diligently to complete this land use plan.
4) Tell our story. Goose Creek is a highly diverse, well educated, high earning community. We need to share this story with our region and state. And, we need to market this story to developers and investors.
I will make sure our Economic Development Director together with the EDAC lead the way. They are to be valued, asked to lead the process, and be held accountable for their performance. I will be of service to the staff and the community. I work for them, not the other way around.