Saturday’s Northfield News has a front page story about it. In an interview with City Staff, the reason given for the company’s decision was Northfield’s lack of land. Wednesday’s Northfield News had an editorial about it. The publisher’s opinion was that from a regional jobs perspective, maybe it wasn’t a loss. Perhaps the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce might agree.
In conversation with elected officials and people close to the Sawyer family, I heard a different story. I found out that several possible sites had been identified, that the Company was willing to settle for land that was less than perfect in order to stay in Northfield, that one site had been selected, that plans had been drawn up to develop that site and that a business deal between company owners and city officials had been reached.
A number of people also pointed out that although local people wouldn’t lose their jobs because of the move, the City would certainly lose tax base. One business person told me that for every $1 of residential income the city receives, there is a $1.25 of costs to the city and for every $1 of industrial income that the city recieves, there is only $0.25 in costs. This loss of tax base is not insignificant.
I encourage you to talk to other people about this situation and hear a variety of viewpoints. Land is certainly a challenge in our community but it can be surmounted with creativity and vigor. Furthermore, land is not the only asset a community has when retaining or recruiting a business. The reality is that you have to get the most leverage out of your existing assets.
Our businesses are members of our community and the loss of any business is felt by the whole community. Anyone who knows the Sawyer family knows how much they love Northfield and how much they have given back to the community over the past few decades. There was more than the mere cost of land that led to their decision.
It’s not just about the information available, it’s about how that information is communicated.
The contributions of businesses to our community are critical to the overall health of our community. College City Beverage has been and should continue to be an essential part of our community.