First and foremost is the absolutely wonderful development at St Andrews, with their pending merger with Webber International University. Though this is not quite a done deal and we don’t want to prematurely celebrate, it certainly looks like St Andrews will survive and even thrive once again. Hurray for President Baldesare for pulling this one off! One day, perhaps a generation from now, when Laurinburg is a thriving town once again, with an Interstate running through it on one end and high speed passenger rail running through it at the other end, people might look back and wonder how Laurinburg survived during these dark days. The astute historians will no doubt realize that it was this survival of St Andrews that saved Laurinburg and kept hope alive. We send our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all those who made this happen; its importance cannot be overstated.
At the Airport, a most interesting development is at hand. It turns out that the Airport needs about half a million dollars more to resurface the main runway (the secondary runway is already being resurfaced). What is interesting, is that your Laurinburg City Council, even in these very difficult and uncertain times for city budgets, seems to be committed to coming up with the money immediately so that this important project can be completed without further delay. That is the kind of bold action, especially in these tough times, that I believe the citizens want. Short-term budgetary constraints must, if in any way possible, always be overcome to allow investment in projects with tremendous long-term value, and Council seems committed to this principle.
Similarly, with another infrastructure project, there seems to be momentum gathering to investing in making Laurinburg a more attractive stop for travelers along Highway 74. The Tourism Development Authority of Scotland County and the Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee have been developing this idea for some time and it is getting to the point where the rubber may hit the road, so to speak. Lighting up the interchanges on 74 as they pass through Laurinburg, the first and most important part of this project, will cost several hundred thousand dollars. The Tourism Board has boldly committed to at least $100,000, which speaks to their belief in the importance of this project. Hopefully, between the City and other entities, enough money can be found to go forward. We must, as a community, stop spending so much on things that consume resources at the expense of projects, like this one, that create them.
In Downtown Laurinburg, City Council had a productive meeting with the North Carolina Main Street director and members of the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Committee. I believe City Council and LDRC, as a result of this meeting, feel that working towards becoming a Main Street city is worthwhile. This program offers the professional expertise and assistance in helping historic downtowns get from where they are to where they want to be.
At the Hospital, the Board has just approved going forward with developing a Cardiovascular Center, a multimillion dollar project that will grow Scotland Memorial’s share of the cardiovascular market, which is Scotland County’s and the surrounding area’s number one cause of death. Here too, we see a board making a very difficult decision to spend money on future growth amid current budgetary uncertainty. This type of boldness is what is needed, in my view, to grow jobs in the future.
So, you see, it has been a very good past few weeks for the city of Laurinburg. I am acutely aware that none of these developments have yet generated a single new job and that jobs, jobs, jobs remains at the top of everyone’s concern. However, these are some seeds that will lead to growth and jobs. By leaders in this community committing to developing our tremendous assets by not 'eating the seed corn' (that is, not using today’s money just to meet today’s needs, but, rather, investing it, however difficult, in projects for greater yield in the future) one can have confidence in better days ahead for the city of Laurinburg.