CITY BEAT: GOOD NEWS KEEPS COMING DESPITE EFFORTS OF ‘DECATUR DOWNERS’
Let’s face it. We have some people in Decatur who spend a lot of time and energy complaining about our community instead of doing anything constructive to make it better. I’m sure they can never enjoy the beauty of a rose bush because they are afraid of getting stuck by the thorns. Despite a tremendous amount of good things happening in our community these days, the Decatur Downers spend their days (and nights) on Social Media and other ways trying to convince people that Decatur is such an awful place to live with no potential. That’s too bad.
Fortunately, they are still in the minority of opinion of people who live in our community. Even though we have just been through a year-and-a-half of the COVID-19 pandemic and may have another unpleasant stretch because of the variants and low vaccination rate in Macon County, I am excited about the good things that have been happening and the potential for even greater success in the future. For instance, I can’t recall a time when this newspaper has printed more “Assumed Name” legal notices for new businesses that have been starting and are starting in Decatur. Those people see potential in our community and they are putting in the effort to build a future in our community.
On Thursday, the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting to officially welcome Napoli’s Italian Restaurant to downtown Decatur. Within the past week, three other businesses had ribbon cuttings. I can remember a time not that long ago when a ribbon cutting was rare (some of that due to the pandemic) but four ribbon cuttings within two weeks! Things are starting to pop in the business community!
• ALSO, Brinkoetter Realtors unveiled a new website July 28, 2021, built for speed, mobile-friendly enhancements, and advanced client experience. The company continues to be creative in attracting and holding clients.
• ALSO, last week Business Facilities’ 17th Annual Metro Rankings Report, was released and recognized Decatur with two Top 10 Rankings: 10th for Top Manufacturing Hubs and the Decatur Commerce Park ranked 9th in the Industrial Parks category. Among other criteria, Business Facilities’ editors based the Manufacturing Hubs ranking on cities where manufacturing’s share (by percentage) of the total workforce is the highest. Of the 47,800 people currently employed in Macon County, 10,900 (or 22.8%) work in Manufacturing; in the United States (as a whole), the average is 8.5%. In 2020, over $2.25 Billion was paid out in wages to the Decatur area community. Nearly 40% of those wages (almost $900 million) were paid to manufacturing employees.
“Everyone, from our small manufacturing companies to our global powerhouses, contributes to the fabric of our strong local economy,” said Nicole Bateman, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County (EDC). “At a time when there’s a renewed focus on U.S. manufacturing, we’re proud to receive recognition for being a top manufacturing hub.”
• I HAVE just barely scratched the surface of good things happening in Decatur’s economy and the recognition our city gets for its achievements. There’s a lot more to come in our future and so much to offer in terms of medical cares, recreation and about any other category you want to mention. As both editor of this newspaper, and as a public official in leading the city as mayor for several years, I have seen the good, bad and ugly happen in our city. We certainly have our problems the same as all communities across this nation, but this is a strong, strong city where the majority of people look out for each other and believe in our future.
I believe our future has never looked brighter with so many good things happening and on the horizon to happen. Well…it is enough to make a “Decatur Downer” stay up even later at night to find something to complain about. I’m not sure why some people in our community — in every communituy — enjoy presenting the negative. They just do. They find happiness in misery. I just don’t let them define what I am or think, or what our city is really about — and neither should you. We are too strong a community to be swayed by Decatur Downers.
• SORRY to see First Mid Bank and Trust close their location in the Millikin Building at 132 South Water Street. Since purchasing Soy Capital Bank, First Mid has combined and/or closed some of their locations. Staff has been moved to the larger location at 455 N. Main Street.
• GOOD NEWS. The space that was occupied on the first floor of the Millikin Building by First Mid will not remain empty. First National Bank of Decatur (FNB Pana – main bank) will be opening a second location in Decatur in the space . First National Bank currently has a location on the corner of Route 36 East and Baltimore Road.
• FLASHBACK! — I had planned on being at Napoli’s Italian Restaurant last Thursday for the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce’s ribbon cutting but was unable to attend. What would have made the ribbon cutting more special than usual to me was the flashback to 2003, when my first ribbon cutting as the newly-elected mayor was at the same location for Pastabilities which was one of my favorite places to eat for many years. Today’s mayor, Julie Moore Wolfe was at both ribbon cuttings. When I cut the ribbon in 2003 Julie was there as head of the Chamber. Thursday, I would have been there as a member of the Chamber. Much success to Napoli’s. It certainly appears to be doing a great business already by the number of people I see being served when I stop by to pick up a chef’s salad, and I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about it.
• THE DEADLINE for submitting resumes for a vacant city council position is at 5:00 p.m. today (Aug. 4). Plans are for council members to review submitted materials in an executive session as part of an upcoming City Council meeting. Councilman Rodney Walker submitted his resignation effective July 20, 2021. The Council vacancy will need to be filled within 60 days of the effective date of the vacancy. Since the submitted materials will be reviewed in an executive session the general public will not know the identity of those seeking to be appointed — except for the one chosen by the council.
• I WAS driving on South Franklin Street heading for the newspaper office downtown one early morning last week when I saw something, or somebody crossing the road in front of me. When I drove closer I saw that it was a deer who was in no hurry to get across the road. Fortunately, there were no other cars around me at the time. I brought my car to a stop and then honked my car horn so that he would get out of the road because I saw other cars coming behind me in my rear view mirror and the deer could be hit. When I honked the car horn, the deer didn’t change his pace, just turned his head and gave me a disgusted look and continued across the Franklin Street. I guess he didn’t appreciate the horn that early in the morning but at least he made it across safely before the other cars came blasting through. Although there are woods near downtown, it is still a little surprising to me to see deer crossing in the area of the TICA building — so be alert when you are drivng in that stretch on South Franklin between the Lake and East Decatur Street.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00. I always enjoy discussing the issues of the day with Brian.