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I have advocated for regional governance and regional economic development in various capacities for 30 years, so it is with an intense sense of irony that I find myself sharing Selectman Charles Havrda’s skepticism regarding the five shoreline town economic development consortium recently proposed to the Guilford Board of Selectmen at the June 17 meeting, though probably for different reasons. It is impossible to adequately list the flaws in the proposed plan in the 300 words that the Courier will allow me, so here are some highlights.
First, a budget of $15- to $25,000 for a planning project including consulting for a five-town scope will buy little more than a glossy report with platitudes based on off-the-shelf statistics and the requisite photos, graphs, and maps for filler, but little insight or actionable strategy. We don’t need another.
Second, while there are clearly intersects of possible shared interest among the five towns of Guilford, Madison, North Branford, Branford, and Durham (I can think of at least three), no one of them could be effectively explored with the proposed budget and a one-year time horizon.
Third, a successful economic development strategy, particularly in as challenging area as the shoreline, is a long term affair, and the process and budget should be appropriately reflective of that reality before we rush to spend the first dollar.
In my opinion, this proposal is throwing money at the wall and hoping something sticks. We can and should do better.
Sidney F. Gale
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