Stay the course with AEDC

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Buzz David’s tenure as head of Amarillo’s leading economic development arm is about to end.

I read the newspaper account of his supposed “retirement” twice this afternoon and I’m left with a nagging takeaway: There seems to be more than meets the eye in his announced departure from the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation.

I don’t know the particulars. AEDC called his announcement a “retirement,” while David insists he’s going to stay in the economic development game after his tenure at AEDC ends late this month.

Whatever the case turns out to be, I want to declare that AEDC has succeeded so far in fulfilling its mission to bring jobs to Amarillo and the Panhandle and that David has been a major factor in that success.

The city should seek to find a suitable replacement, someone with the kind of economic development chops that David exhibited during his decade-plus as president and CEO of AEDC.

As for AEDC itself, my unsolicited advice to the Amarillo City Council is clear cut and unequivocal: Don’t mess with it.

I say this because of some careless talk around the city immediately after this past year’s municipal election that the AEDC board should resign en masse. That talk subsided immediately, for which I am grateful.

I had the chance to watch David up close for many years while I was working as editorial page editor of the Amarillo newspaper. I’ve had many discussions with him during that time and since my departure from the paper more than three years ago.

I consider David to be an impressive individual with loads of business savvy. If you ask him about criticism of certain projects AEDC brought to Amarillo, he’s straightforward and direct in answering them.

I once inquired about the Hilmar Cheese plant that AEDC awarded several million dollars to build in Dalhart. David’s response? The money was well-spent, given that the economic impact of that operation ripples far beyond Dallam and Hartley counties.

The Bell aircraft assembly operation came into being before David arrived at AEDC. It, too, has produced huge economic impact for the region. On David’s watch at AEDC, the operation has continued to expand.

AEDC’s strategy is to use the money it accrues from the half-cent municipal sales tax it collects and then doles it out to businesses interested in locating in Amarillo.

That strategy drew considerable scorn from the Dallas-Fort Worth media after Amarillo managed to lure the Bell aircraft operation from Tarrant County to its current location next door to Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

It worked! Period.

Yes, there have been some hiccups along the way. Businesses that set up shop here after receiving AEDC assistance have failed.

The bottom line, though, looks good.

I wish Buzz David well as he moves on to his next station in life.

Moreover, my hope is that the city doesn’t mess with the successes built by its economic development corporation.

 

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