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Our view: This is Gadsden County's time

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By Pat Faherty

As the Great Recession continues with no leadership from Washington D.C. and a state government that seems bent on punishing its own residents, economic growth for Gadsden County will only happen through local leadership, commitment and perseverance.

The pursuit of economic development and growth in this current climate is not for the meek or anyone easily discouraged. It will also require an energetic unity, goods lines of communications and wearing one's community pride like a badge.

And the requirements are basically the same whether Gadsden County is going after this exciting solar energy farm or just a sustainable slice of the tourist market.

Last week the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of eco-development veteran David Gardner put its cards on the table in an impressive effort to make Gadsden County a front runner in the competition for a $1.4 billion solar energy project.

A project worth hundreds of construction jobs, some permanent positions, millions in tax dollars and a leadership role in our energy future.

On June 28, National Solar Power, a Florida based company, announced the names of seven communities that are in serious contention to be the one chosen as the site for the construction and operation of the world’s largest solar farm.

That list included Hardee, Osceola, Suwannee and Gadsden counties in Florida, Sumter and Tatnall counties in Georgia and Guilford County in North Carolina.

And last week representatives from National Solar Power Partners LLC and the Hensel –Phelps Construction Co., which will build the solar facility made a public visit to Gadsden County.

They were here to explain the project, what they would need to make it viable at a given location and probably even more so to get a better sense of what Gadsden County is all about.

Gardner had assembled a full room of local and regional assets represented by individuals of a like mind regarding this endeavor.

Just being in the room, on could not help but be proud of the way our community was presented.
James Scrivener, CEO of the company was quite up front with what they need to make this work in terms of land and tax incentives.

Of course not all of our cards are going to be face at this stage in the game, but there is probably nothing National Solar needs for this project that Gadsden County cannot find a way to deliver.

A lot of it of course will be in the hands of our local elected officials.

They have to do the right thing. We are sitting here with 10 percent of resident workforce unable to find jobs, while the cost of everything is going up.

This project as Gardner once described it is “a game changer” it is an opportunity for this community to secure a better future and become part of our nation’s energy solution.

Somehow we have to find a way to make it work. This is Gadsden County’s time.