When future generations look back on this time of the coronavirus pandemic, it will appear, rightly, that our world in 2020 was a mess. The virus’ death toll alone will lead most discussions and the economic devastation will follow close behind.
We’re living through a time of uncertainty. And also frustration as we’re unable to do many of the things we want and need to do, not just to feel some semblance of normalcy in the moment but to offer hope of a return to our former realities. Unfortunately, it’s also a time with no dependable roadmap for getting us there.
But it’s beginning to become apparent that in spite of all that, this is also shaping up as a time of ingenuity, of figuring out ways to make things work, as best they can, instead of settling for why they won’t. Not always in the realm of government, certainly, but many individuals and businesses have decided that while this may not be the perfect time for anything, it is a time to try something.
We’ve published numerous stories not only about the struggles of businesses in the face of the state’s public health orders, but also of new business openings. A surprising number of enterprises are kicking off in Roswell. The spirit of entrepreneurial adventurism that maintains, builds and grows this and every other economy remains intact.
This is indeed a time of uncertainty, frustration — and of finding ways to make things work, even if imperfectly. It is also a time to make the most of the things we do have, including each other.
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It’s not a bad time for city and county officials to try something different, together, when it comes to mapping the future of one of Roswell’s most important long-term economic development assets, the Roswell Air Center. That future may or may not include creation of an independent regional authority to oversee the facility, but a resolution passed by the City Council — “to evaluate and develop a framework to consider establishment of an airport authority” — moves forward the process of figuring that out.
The county plans to consider later this week its own resolution addressing city-county discussions of a possible authority.
Many see formation of an authority to oversee the Air Center as the best way of maximizing the facility’s long-term potential as an economic development engine for Roswell and beyond. Legislation signed into law early last year made creation of such an authority possible, but the details are Roswell’s to work out. Many questions remain, and just as there are believers in the independent regional authority concept, there are those who doubt whether that is, philosophically, the former Walker Air Force Base’s best flight plan.
The council’s vote doesn’t make that determination, just encourages talks between the city manager and county manager, along with creation of an advisory group to gather information about necessary steps along the road to possibly forming an authority. They’ll report back to the council in February.
Bringing city and county resources together for this fact-finding process is a needed step. And again, not a bad time for it, as there has recently been inspiration in the form of problem-solving all around.
If a businessperson can, in the midst of a pandemic, open a restaurant, a gift shop, you name it; if small businesses can weather a government-mandated shutdown and emerge alive if not intact; if parents can educate their kids at home after shuttering of the schools; if workers deemed “essential” by the government can continue finding ways to serve the public … then local officials and other interested parties can find answers to questions surrounding whether the future of the Air Center is best served by formation of an authority — then present those conclusions in a way that’s easy to understand, at least in broad terms.
It won’t be the most difficult thing going on in this community between now and February. But it could be among the most important, long-term. When Roswell’s future generations look for historical information about the Air Center, we have no way of knowing whether they’ll dig through the clutter of the pandemic to find evidence of this step. Nor should that matter. As long as what they’re looking for are reasons the Air Center’s success benefited Roswell and its people.
John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.