The cry often heard in Morgan County from elected officials is, “We need more economic development.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this statement in government meetings over the past four years.
I was struck by a comment from Councilmember Shelly Betz this week in the Morgan City Council meeting. It was a small comment as a part of her report to the council. She reported that the council would need to consider how they would approach Christmas on Commercial Street because many of the retail stores they had used in the past were not available since they have businesses in them.
This statement really started me thinking. Many of the county residents may not be aware of the tremendous effort the mayor and city council has made to attract and promote businesses in the city, particularly on Commercial Street. Their actions have had steady results.
Look at the number of new businesses in Morgan City in the past year. Traders Apparel has opened. There is a new gun store next to the Browning Outlet. Both Morgan Valley Crafts and Front Street Gifts are about to celebrate their first year in operation. Morgan Physical Therapy completely remodeled the building they now occupy on Commercial Street. Family Dollar has opened their doors. We now have a Pretzelmaker in Morgan. The growth of these stores is not accident or happenstance. The mayor and councilmembers have personally taken an interest in these businesses. Sometimes the city has offered short-term rent subsidies or has used business development money to match the owner’s contribution to improving the buildings in which they are located.
Perhaps most significant of all is that it looks almost certain that after decades city councils expressing the need for a hotel, this city council acted and the city will shortly have a Fairfield Inn. They hired a consultant, performed the necessary studies to attract a builder, and just this week finished the last step required by the city to facilitate a no-interest loan that the builder will need for a portion of the proceeds needed to build the new hotel.
I want to express my thanks to Mayor Jim Egbert and the Morgan City Council. While others only talked, they have acted. The council has invested their time, talents, and have leveraged the city’s relatively small economic development budget to produce wonderful results. Their efforts will bear fruit for the businesses and residents of the city and county far into the future.
The Morgan County News