Payson Unlikely To Be Manufacturing Mecca

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I have no doubt that the Payson Economic Development Corporation and its president, Ray Schum, are sincere in their determination to "woo high-paying manufacturing companies to Payson." (Roundup, June 18) And, perhaps now and again a company attracted enough to this area to overlook its business liabilities will indeed set up shop here.

But financial reality sheds light on the impossible dream scene of Payson as a manufacturing mecca. Private land is very limited and expensive. The regulatory overhead is onerous. Most of the terrain is difficult and expensive to develop. Taxes are high and growing. The future of adequate water supplies is questionable.

For 20 years that I know of, we have been trying to "woo" manufacturing. And we do have a few -- very few -- small, excellent, mostly independent manufacturers. But today, the old saying that "no man is an island" applies equally to towns and even countries.

U.S. manufacturing has been decreasing, not expanding, for decades. Downsizing set a record in 1998. The annual trade deficit for 1998 was a record $169 billion, and each month sets a new monthly record. In other words, America's consumption of goods made in other countries is keeping world economies afloat. Every month we are putting another $20 billion into foreign hands.

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculations, foreign economies are expected to be injected with at least a third of a trillion American dollars in 1999. America's companies keep downsizing because they can't sell enough goods made in America to other nations. So why are we wasting our time on obsolete premises -- that American manufacturing is alive and well and expanding into American communities?

PEDC would do better to concentrate on today's realities and take advantage of Payson's own lopsided residential-growth industry, and concentrate on a regulatory environment that encourages small and family businesses with high-tech and other home businesses. With the college's in-town 60 acres, Payson is in a prime position to be a perfect research lab for solar and other alternative energy sources (perhaps headed by APS itself) and innovative, lower-cost building methods such as adobe and straw bale.

We already have a fine hospital and rest homes. Our medical profession and college should work together to train medical workers here in the Rim country. Our Payson High School vocational education [program] could be vastly improved by a liaison with the college that would include computer-based mechanical and construction training appropriate to today's job market.

We cannot control the fast-changing market, but we can do better at keeping in step with it. Instead of a fruitless quest for a pot of gold at the end of a faded rainbow, why not shine up the emerald buried in our own backyard?

Carroll Cox
Payson

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