The roar of applause coming from Savannah, Charleston, Macon, Columbia, and other regionaltrade centers was almost deafening the morning of April 23. These cities are in competition for the same convention and tourism business that Augusta should be going after, and certainly they must be celebrating the votes cast the day before by Commissioners Willie Mays, J.B. Powell, Moses Todd, Lee Beard, and Henry Brigham.
In turning down the only credible offer on the table to build a new hotel and expand the convention center on the riverfront, these commissioners have substantially slowed down if not eliminated altogether Augusta's ability to be competitive in the convention and tourism industry.
While the math of present value of future income may be too complex for some to comprehend, certainly the old adage "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush" is a relatively simple concept. Hopefully Messrs. Mays, Powell, Todd, Beard and Henry Brigham have plan "B" in place and are ready to present an offer to the community that is as good as if not better than the one presented by Paul Simon and his investors.
If not, I would suggest Messrs. Mays, Powell, Todd, Beard and Henry Brigham consider vacating their seats on the commission to those more progressive and a little more astute.
Economic development does not happen by accident. It comes as the result of hard work from dedicated people, the commitment of those with the necessary resources, and the proper packaging and marketing of an area's assets. As the second largest trade area in Georgia, Augusta has the opportunity under progressive and innovative leadership to be the best medium-sized city in the South in which to live. To do this, our leaders must be pro-active and not manage from a reactive stance.
For too long the politics of difference has dominated over the politics of togetherness. We must remember that we are all in this boat together. If one end of the boat sinks, the other end is not far behind.
I implore our elected leaders to make decisions on what's best for the total community, not just what's best for the few.
Julian W. Osbon, Augusta