Remember Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Munson? Well, it looks as though the Chamber has decided to follow the Downtown Lakeland Partnership’s lead and ask state officials to do exactly what the Chamber should have asked for months ago.
Josh accurately points out an error in the letter. CSX hasn’t publicly claimed 1,000 to 2,000 new jobs. I have no idea where the Chamber got that number.
I do have a couple of reactions to Josh’s post. Please don’t lump all of “Lakeland” with the Chamber. From the start of reporting here at Lakeland Local we’ve focused on the train traffic through Lakeland. Of course we mention the truck traffic. That’s being through. However, we expected Winter Haven and other Polk County bloggers would focus on that aspect of the project.
Speaking of that traffic, Billy Townsend figured that daily truck traffic on 60 would jump 13% to 23% based on CSX’s numbers.
Billy Townsend is the person in the state who knows the whys and wherefores of this project better than anyone. He works for a Tampa newspaper. I live in Lakeland and focus on this community. So, why did it take our questioning of CSX officials to point out the truth about the employment numbers? It took three questions to get an answer. Winter Haven officials should have taken CSX to task about those numbers as early as February 2006.
Here, and I believe in the Tribune, there has been a concerned effort to report accurate numbers. That’s difficult when dealing with CSX, and I understand, with Winter Haven officials. So, no, everybody on both sides isn’t pointing to the big numbers.
No single person I know has faulted CSX for skirting the DCA project size limit. Joked about — yes. Said, “well, what do you expect?” — yes. That’s what many businesses do. However, did Winter Haven public officials help CSX obscure the true size? They are people you elect to represent you, not CSX. I’m more concerned that county and other elected officials weren’t right in CSX’s business when this project started.
I thank Josh for publishing the letter so you can read it.
I do have an additional issue with the letter:
It states, “Our research has confirmed that, while the project will generate a positive economic impact for Winter Haven and our county with an increase in jobs and tax benefits.”
I’d like to see that research. One company’s “positive impact” is your “increased road building costs.”