The Recorder – French King Highway rezoning would support living wage jobs 


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Published: 1/1/2023 5:32:02 PM

Modified: 1/1/2023 5:29:01 PM

I read in the Recorder that At-Large City Councilor Penny Ricketts had called for reconsideration for her vote on the rezoning of the French King Highway area land that could be supporting real “living wage” manufacturing jobs.

The business that wants to locate there started small, like many small businesses, but now has 200 employees, anticipating adding even more jobs. I understand that these jobs average $75,000/year. But the company needs to build an advanced manufacturing facility (about 100,000 square feet). Why is the City Council failing to get behind this home-grown success story?

In Greenfield, we need to have a dialog on workforce development, so that city councilors who voted against supporting rezoning will take advantage of the opportunity provided by Ricketts’ decision, calling for “reconsideration” on her vote.

I used to work for a statewide advocacy network on the “Working Family Agenda.” The key to good economic development is not low-income retail jobs. Once a person has a living wage job, s/he can afford all the rest: health care, child care, housing, transportation, food. Without a living wage job, any one of these other essential pieces can ruin a person’s ability to hold any job! Yes, housing is important, and we still need a safety net for the times someone falls through the cracks. But living wage jobs are the key.

We all have a chance to learn something from this situation. I love the work of the Franklin County CDC. I call it the “Little Engine that Could!” Their task is to help people with an idea develop businesses, and then support businesses as they grow, with loan funds, access to space, etc. We just need to become the city that follows that lead, starting with rezoning the French King Highway land.

Pamela Kelly

Greenfield

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