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Ennis Daily News

Making more than we spend is a plus

“Jobs” is a magic word, one that makes or breaks individuals, communities and whole regions. It can boost or dash political aspirations and the words that surround the word “jobs” in any given report — whether positive or negative — on a region can decide its health and fate.
It’s just as important of a word here in Ennis. It’s especially important as our neighbors like Waxahachie furlough city employees and report job losses in industry and business. It sets us apart. Not that we’re immune — the swell of support for community-based charity that came in last year shows things aren’t perfect.

To that end, we expect our city to have its eyes on the prize.

It would be acceptable for Ennis to invest many millions in economic development as long as it created jobs. We could lose money on the deal and be OK with it if people had jobs to show for it. Put simply, jobs create a huge impact on an area — increased sales and use taxes, increases in property taxes through home purchases and business expansions and other factors play a part in jobs’ impacts.

In the case of Ennis’ Economic Development Commission, supported by a half a cent of the sales taxes we pay when we buy those shiny new widgets at the corner store, we’re getting more than “good enough.”

It’s impressive to see the economic development entity is actually pulling in tax revenue that is outpacing the money taxpayers are pouring into it. In the mid 1990s, we passed the sales tax that funds these efforts, and since then have paid more than $13 million to that end. Since then, that effort has created a stream of income through industrial recruitment adding property tax dollars to the annual ad valorem taxes in our city.

Those dollars are in the $1.5 million-plus range annually. Sales taxes being brought in are to the $1.2-$1.4 million ballpark. That means we’re making more than we’re spending. At least for now. That situation isn’t guaranteed forever, especially given the grave problems facing industry and business with this economy.

Still, the accomplishment is not small. Ennis’ city manager plays a huge role in that — with decades of experience here, his ability to “sell the city” shouldn’t be underestimated. He wouldn’t take the credit, though. He’d give it to the taxpayers that are making it possible to offer land and other incentives to prospective industries.

Not everyone agrees with his direction, and that’s fine – good, in fact. We can’t argue with the results, though, if we think about where Ennis would be without an economic development commission that has brought more than 2,000 jobs to residents of the city and greater county area.

We know that some of those jobs are held by individuals who live a good distance from the city, so they are taking those paychecks back to other cities in some cases. Even that has its advantages — they’re eating in our restaurants and buying our gas and conveniences while they’re here, so the impact isn’t lost.

Economic development hit a bit of a run during the worst we’ve seen of the recession in 2009, actually. Nine projects have been put on the books since the final month of 2008, and that’s no small feat.

There is a potential to add hundreds of jobs to the local economy after all is said and done on those projects, as well.

I hate to draw comparisons to where I used to live — Ennis is home these days — but my prior place of residence could not boast nearly the success rate Ennis is enjoying. Not even close. In fact, there was more news of industries that had passed the area by. We had a knack for landing lower-paying jobs without benefits, and those aren’t the kind that make a deep impact on an area’s economic profile.

Louisiana has its troubles in that regard.

An aside: Winter in Texas has proven to be alternatively pleasant and perplexing. The snow Tuesday was just enough to enjoy without the hooplah of Feb. 11.

Nick Todaro is still finding ways Ennis is a lot like home — and a lot better. He can be reached at nick@ennisdailynews.com.

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Posted by on Feb 24 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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