Monday, September 29, 2008


City Clerk Marcey Wisman conducted a round table discussion today entitled Solutions for Indiana. We were supposed to be joined by some people from Indianapolis but they did not show up. So Marcey, Lloyd Wimp and I had our own discussion which was recorded by Daniel Suddeath of the Tribune.

Marcey was well prepared with many facts, some were familiar but several were new to me and I must admit rather shocking. Following is a synopsis of our discussion.

  • The unemployment rate is the highest in 21 years, 6.4%. In January 2001 it was 3.6%.

  • There was a loss of manufacturing jobs in Indiana of 109,800 from 2001 to 2007. Manufacturing jobs make up 28% of Indiana's GDP, 550,000 Hoosiers are employed in manufacturing jobs.

  • John McCain voted for NAFTA but voted against job training funding bills SIX TIMES!

  • Health care premiums have gone up 42% since 2000 and 13% of Hoosiers are without health care.

  • John McCain wants to tax our employer furnished health care benefit as taxable income.

  • Foreclosures are up 26% this year in Indiana.

  • Barack Obama wants to pay dividends to taxpayers on any profit made by the bailout.

  • Obama wants to create 2,000,000 new jobs for repairs to our nation's infrastructure, ie. roads, highways, bridges. This would add 42,000 new jobs to Indiana.

  • Obama also wants to create 5,000,000 green jobs and establish a National Infrastructure Investment Bank which will enable people to invest in our infrastructure.

We also had a long discussion about our local economy. Marcey suggested that New Albany needs to find it's niche as far as how to market itself. We decided as a group that we are best suited as service orientated town. We may not have enough acreage for a huge auto plant but we have a lot of empty buildings which would work well for customer service companies. The first one that came to my mind was Heartland in Clark County. This is a company which services bankcard scanners and ATM owners. New Albany would be well suited for this type of business. These types of jobs are being farmed out to other countries. Have you ever tried to call your credit card company and talk to someone with an American accent?

We also talked about the condition of our streets and sidewalks. It is hard to walk down many of our streets without tripping over cracks and tree roots. And lo and behold our community development grants have been cut.

Another worrisome issue is home ownership. We all want to improve our ratio of home owners to renters but worry about how these homes will be financed.

Additionally we had a brief discussion about the Greenway project and the flood wall. We need to quit thinking of the flood wall as a barrier. The Clark County residents are very excited about their part of the Greenway. Are we going to continue to be Clark County's little sister?

I know that several groups are trying to put New Albany "on the map". We need the help from our elected officials. Please Mr. England and City and County Council members, we can't accomplish these goals without your help. Let's all work together to make New Albany a destination, not just a pass through to the Horseshoe Casino.