Letter: Change in the Port Authority will take couragePort Authority’s proposed new loan program is a poorly timed attempt at a public relations makeover.
By: Art Kenyon, Robert Hedin & Bill Federbusch, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
However commendable the Port Authority’s proposed new loan program to help the growth of small businesses in Red Wing may appear (RE, April 17), it must be seen for what it really is: a poorly timed attempt at a public relations makeover to improve the port’s negative image in the community.
Here are the facts:
• The Port Authority currently stands $1.2 million in debt to the taxpayers, with no visible plans on how to erase this alarming shortfall.
• This debt will continue to grow to $1.4 million in 2011 if the agency fails to sell any of its current property holdings.
• The Port Authority has sold no land since 2008, and Director Myron White has stated publicly that he can see no land sales in the foreseeable future.
• In 2009, 70 percent of the businesses that relocated in Minnesota settled outside the Twin Cities. None came to Red Wing.
• The port slashed its marketing budget from a modest $35,000 to a paltry $5,000, effectively putting an end to any serious recruitment of outside businesses to Red Wing.
• The Port Authority president recently acknowledged that management has neither a current business plan nor a long-term strategic outline to guide Red Wing into the future.
All this is to say that the port’s economic development of Red Wing has ground to a halt. If the Port Authority were a private business, the leadership would have been replaced long ago, and in all likelihood the port would be forced to file for bankruptcy.
To add insult to injury, it is doubtful whether the Port Authority itself, with its current financial debt and lack of effective management, would even qualify for one of its own loans under its new proposed program. If there is no change, Red Wing taxpayers will continue to pump their money into this failed agency and Red Wing’s economic future will remain in doubt.
The real question now is this: When the Blue Ribbon Panel makes its final recommendations to improve Red Wing’s economic development, will the City Council and the Port Authority Board have the courage and conviction to implement the required changes?
We certainly hope so, for the future of our community.