After reading in the Herald News an article titled "Swansea Target to open July 20with a Starbucks" this got me thinking of how the City of Fall River once again is left behind when it comes to Economic Development. While surrounding towns benefit from the additional business, Fall River just keeps adding to its growing unemployment rate!
With the new Target location in Swansea, we will see the relocating of Marshalls, Radio Shack and a new location for Famous Footwear, along with the possibility of many other great shopping experiences. Why can't Fall River support such economic growth?
I'll tell you why in my own opinion, the Fall River Office of Economic Development under the monarchy of Ken Fiola are to blame. According to a brochure, by the way; printed in New Bedford for FROED, 'Fall River Works for Business' is the title in BIG letters, I remember laughing when I read it! What business?
What does this city do about creating new jobs? Businesses who try locating here give up after attempting cutting through the red tape or are not approved for loans. Fall River claims to be business friendly, yet where are all the new businesses? The rumor is that Lowes is withdrawing on their plans for a location in the proposed retail development for the former Quaker Fabric property on Brayton Avenue. What is FROED doing about this? Is this land going to sit vacant for 30 years such as the City Pier has? More prime realty locations left vacant for years. Home Depot years ago wanted to build in Fall River, they were shot down. Where are they now? In Somerset! Scott Anderson and Stuart Anderson of Anderson-Little, which was founded right here in Fall River in 1933, re-launched the Anderson-Little brand. Where are they now? The manufacturing and management are based in Miami Florida! Yes you read that right, Miami, not Fall River. As quoted from a Herald News article dated July 16th 2008, "Scott said they tried opening in Fall River but weren't able to secure a loan from the city" So much for working for business! Maybe they (Anderson-Little) wouldn't employ 600 people in Fall River like they once did; it would have been some jobs for our skilled workforce. We (Fall River) had the opportunity of returning to our manufacturing roots on a much smaller scale, and missed an opportunity to be a part of the return of a New England Icon.
In the 32 year history of the quasi-government agency incorporated in March of 1978 as Jobs for Fall River, Inc., we have seen lack luster results. Over the years as our manufacturers have closed one by one, little has been done to bring new corporations to Fall River. So I pose the question, do we abolish FROED altogether or replace those within the so called corporation? FROED needs to operate less like a city department influenced by politics, more like a marketing agency in order to achieve its goals of attracting and retaining jobs for the community. I think what we need is someone new in charge of FROED. Someone who has a vision to help move Fall River forward and out of the economic slump we have been in for nearly 70 years. The Time has come to see Ken Fiola replaced as the head of FROED. An individual with a Public Relations and Marketing background needs to be selected to market Fall River to corporations looking to relocate. Having access to infrastructure by land, rail and sea gives Fall River an advantage and is a great marketing tool. Through the use of public relations the improving of Fall River's public image by the establishment of a civic beautification
program would benefit the city tremendously by enhancing the first impression of Fall Riverto the potential business community. The city's image could easily be enhanced at little or nocost by corporate sponsorship of areas throughout the city. Just simply updating the welcome signage and landscaping at city entrances, planting flowers in the planters along the Plymouth Avenue corridor etc. could change ones first impression of Fall River. This alone is not enough to attract businesses here but a mere baby step at achieving something greater. Among other improvements needed is a better educational system for employees and their families and a safer community through additional public safety officers. Both require a funding source, which could have been funded by lost revenue FROED failed to realize.
Submitted by taurus3254ja