By Ron Wolfe

Following many years of neglect, the area of SouthShore (formerly South County) is now on the brink of major development. What is the primary nature of this development? Is there a healthy balance between residential growth and economic development?

Both economists and community planners agree that a good balance between residential growth and economic development results in a healthy and vibrant community. 

Most of us can observe the residential growth now taking place. Simply look at the major housing projects that are planned or underway. Less visible is the prospect for SouthShore economic development.

What is economic development? It is an activity that local communities undertake in cooperation with business and industry.

The two goals of economic development are: to increase local revenues and to retain and/or create local and permanent jobs.

In order to measure SouthShore progress in meeting these goals, it would be helpful to know the current amount of local revenues and the number of local and permanent jobs. At present, this data is not available to me. If it were available, this would provide a benchmark for determining future growth.

According to the National Association of Towns and Townships, there are six sensible reasons why small communities should be concerned about economic development. Letís review these reasons and see how they apply to SouthShore.

1. The young people are leaving our community. Graduates canít stay to raise families because there are no jobs. More employment opportunities are needed for our young people.

2. The economic recovery hasnít arrived in SouthShore. Several businesses have closed or cut back. Some residents are skilled in jobs that no longer exist. SouthShore needs new business activity.

3.The SouthShore community is no longer principally agricultural. Farming can no longer support the area. More off-farm employment opportunities are needed to vary our local economy.

4. SouthShore needs to raise additional revenue from the area and to encourage local merchants to improve their storefronts and to sharpen their business skills. This can help to keep spending within the SouthShore community.

5. The quality of life in SouthShore is special. We need to preserve it. And, itís an important assist in encouraging business growth.

6. SouthShore communities need to plan for their own development. If not, it may be planned by others and maybe not to our liking.

Typically, economic development is the domain of the four SouthShore Chambers of Commerce Ė Apollo Beach, Riverview, Ruskin, Sun City Center. I wonder what plans they have in place to deal with economic development in SouthShore and invite them to write to me so I can share this information with you.

Send letters to: THE VOICE of SouthShore, P.O. Box 476, Ruskin, FL 33575-0476. Phone: 813-273-8976.


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