by Dick Wolfe
vice-mayor, payson town council
Some members of town government have long recognized the urgent need to bring decent-paying jobs to our community and stop the exodus of working-class families from our community. Recently, a great deal of effort (was) expended toward bringing a manufacturer from the Valley to Payson, which would provide a number of those jobs. So far, our efforts have not been successful due to a variety of issues.
I recently received a letter from Mr. James Hill of The Door Stop, who provided me with a unique insight of the issues from his vantage point. I believe it is in the best interest of the town that our citizens are made aware of how our town is perceived by businesses like The Door Stop. His letter is as follows:
Some of Payson's newcomers seem intent on freezing growth at the level where they discovered the community. While these regressive few speak very loudly and very often, they don't speak for the majority and they don't speak of the future, only the past. Life can be lived through the rear view mirror, but most of us prefer to look ahead toward the future of our children and the future of our community.
As young growing families continue to leave Payson for good jobs, the vibrant charm that attracted all of us to this community will be leaving with (them). Businesses hoping to bring jobs to Payson find themselves caught in crossfire between growth and no-growth groups, and often simply decide that relocating into unresolved controversy is not good business.
The Door Stop is now facing this same controversy that prevented the relocation of several other manufacturing businesses to Payson in the past. This controversy is still unresolved and businesses will be unlikely to come until it is.
If anti-business activists are allowed to use false and misleading issues to influence government policy and community opinion, a true measure of what The Door Stop could bring to the community will never be known.
Using every opportunity to speak at town council meetings and local radio talk shows, these extremists are again attempting to (prevent) The Door Stop and other businesses from opening facilities in Payson and creating jobs.
"No growth" is the real but never openly admitted goal in stopping these businesses. In an effort to emit this smoke screen, local activists have accused The Door Stop of everything from paying sub-minimum wages and generating massive amounts of toxic waste to consuming millions of gallons of water, being financially untraceable whatever that means looking for corporate welfare, and other attacks on our truthfulness, reputation, and true intentions.
I'd like to take this opportunity for a little "pollution control," to clear away some of this smoke screen.
The Door Stop is a 20-year-old company with annual growth averaging over 20 percent. We have been, and remain essentially self-financed and are very financially stable. We are the largest cabinet door manufacturer in Arizona and one of the largest in the West.
Our average employee in 2000 earned over $28,000, none were even close to sub-minimum wage and we work with wood, not toxic waste. The water we use is for drinking and restrooms, (not manufacturing).
As an Arizona Chapter "C" Corporation, we file annual reports with the Arizona Secretary of State, and have done so for many years. These public records are available even to our detractors. Our facility has been visited and toured by Mayor (Ray) Schum, Vice Mayor (Dick) Wolfe, and Fire Chief (John) Ross, and they can attest to our existence and our size. We don't run fleets of "huge trucks" that will damage Payson's roads. We don't generate "toxic waste." Our products are supplied in raw, unfinished form, with no lacquers, solvents, or paints used. Our present two-acre facility has simply been outgrown and more space is not an extravagance, it's a necessity if we are to continue our growth.
The truth is that ... we are a door manufacturer, nothing more and nothing less. We are not going to "save Payson" and we are not going to destroy it, either. We are just a small business that is very surprised (by) the attention, and the venom, we have attracted. The viciousness of the attacks by some of those opposing our relocation has been surprising and often painful, and has made us question whether these radicals actually speak for the majority in Payson. Finding our business involved in a community controversy was never our goal and we regret that it has happened.
The Payson Roundup recently reported that local school enrollment was actually declining. I doubt that these families are moving to the Valley by choice. They are moving because of jobs, and jobs are what we hope to bring. We are not bringing (growth). We are bringing empty jobs, which may allow some young Payson family to stay.
Those opposing these jobs are not simply opposing growth. They are supporting shrinkage. Bringing empty jobs doesn't add to the local population, it only adds to the local payroll and local tax base. A March 14 Economic Impact Study, conducted by the Arizona Department of Commerce at Payson's request, forecasts that Payson will benefit by $97,000 in The Door Stop's first year of operation alone. And that study used minimum figures, which are 40 percent less that The Door Stop's actual year-2000 numbers, and 57 percent less than our 2001 revised forecasts. (The) actual benefit to Payson will be much higher in the first year, with increases every following year.
While Payson's leadership is nearly unanimous in its mission to bring jobs to Payson, its mission will surely fail without a strong show of community support to offset the constant shouting of the extremist opposition. Growth or no growth, jobs or no jobs, families growing-up in Payson, or families moving away, the choice is yours. But the choice needs to be made, and made soon.
James Hill, president of Western Cabinet Doors, Inc.
Whether we attract Mr. Hill's company or not, there are certainly lessons to be learned from this entire experience. Our leaders need to work together as a team to lower the barriers, not raise them, to desirable economic development.