In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There’s a land that’s fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night
Where the sun shines every day
Oh, I’m bound to go where there ain’t no snow
Where the rain don’t fall and the wind don’t blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
— Haywire McClintock
Let’s be honest.
The Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce has a tough sell – and the recent “kick out the jams” coverage of their annual awards luncheon by the Daytona Beach News-Journal was an interesting read.
Rest easy. All’s well on the “Fun Coast.”
Look, I understand the Chamber’s important role – and I’ve worked with their impressive 2016 chair, Teresa Rand, in my past life. Good people who are passionate supporters of business and commerce in east Volusia County, and they do a wonderful job of staging our area in the most positive light possible.
In her “upbeat” report on the local economy, Rand said, “We all feel the energy that’s taking place in our community right now.”
Call me the perpetual Debbie Downer – but I’m not so optimistic.
Not feeling the whole ‘energy’ thing.
Unfortunately, in my view, the Chamber looks like the cheer-leading squad for the 1980 New Orleans Saints – crying inside, while outwardly smiling and enthusiastically rooting for a perennial loser – as we, the long-suffering fans, sit in the stands with paper bags on over our heads.
Watching our local ‘Trailblazers’ take credit for anything even remotely resembling an economic “achievement” is like staring at a pack of hungry dog’s pile on a bone. I mean, is there any of our local “leaders” – or the entities they represent – that haven’t used the same dubious “accomplishments” to convince us of their success and worth to the community?
Their collective triumphs include One Daytona, Tanger Outlets, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s research park – all of which were paid for, in whole or in part, with taxpayer dollars.
Add to that everyone-who-is-anyone’s “engagement” with the issues of blight and homelessness – a still festering quagmire that has not improved one jot since the “Occupation of Beach Street” – and you get the feeling that these folks will glom onto anything that makes them look relevant.
Hardly a ringing endorsement for the achievements of our local movers-and-shakers.
According to Eric Peburn, the chief financial officer of Halifax Health who will succeed Rand as chair in 2017, the Chamber has set lofty goals, to include revitalizing the city’s beachside, downtown, and the cruddy International Speedway Boulevard corridor.
That’s like saying, “I like ice cream.” We all want that – but when?
We’ve been listening to the same saw for years.
Typically, the Chamber of Commerce – much like Daytona Beach and Volusia County government – is long on hope, but short on a plan for getting us there.
“We need all those with the will and vision to get involved in this effort (to revitalize both ISB and the Boardwalk area) as it will reshape the image of Daytona Beach to the world class community designation it deserves,” Peburn said in an interview with The News-Journal.
Good luck with all that.
Look, I’m not knocking their enthusiasm – but we’ve heard it all before.
Anyone want to take a bet that come next year’s awards gala absolutely nothing will have changed on the beachside, downtown – or anywhere else?
Unfortunately, those with the “will and vision” (read: money and influence) are too busy manipulating elections for their own self-interests, and surreptitiously diverting our tax dollars for their private profit motives, to give two-shits about revitalizing anything.
That’s the way it is, and the way it shall be.
Until our business community gets fed up with the status quo and exerts their formidable collective influence to fundamentally change the way our elected and appointed officials govern, things will stay the same – and all the well-meaning “rah-rah” speeches and fancy luncheons in the Chamber’s repertoire won’t change anything.