If you’ve followed the Polk County Rail Hub story at all, you’re read about “the 8500.” I speak specifically of Table 9 from the CSX purchased January 2006 report from HDR Engineering and HDR/HLB Decision Economics.
The final number from that table was used as part of the campaign to convince residents the rail hub would be good for the county. Citizens were told the rail hub would create 8500 jobs. Rail hub proponents often neglected to mention the table’s title:
“Table 9: Annual Polk County Employment Impacts After 10 Years (Number of Full-Time Jobs Created)”
The idea of throwing out a number like “8500” is that people may think the rail hub would hire that many people. Reading the table, prepared by company hired by CSX, you see the best estimate for the park is 2000 jobs. And CSX plans to have only 200 jobs. And after questioning, CSX explains many of those employees will likely move from their present positions in Orlando.
Of course, no one at CSX explains how that number was set. Nor do proponents publicize that the number includes a lof of “Ifs.” Even most CSX proponents have stopped using that particular inflated number.
So why am I bringing it up today?
Someone at the Ledger thought it would be a good idea to publish Table 9 and entitle it “CSX’s Job Projection In and Out of Facility“. The table is sourced “CSX, Oct. 22, 2007”.
Oct.22, 2007? Why not at least mention the numbers are a projection from January 2006? It’s bad enough the paper chose to use valuable space to publish out-of-date information. But to imply they are current estimates?
I think it is time an independent organization studied the employment numbers and balance the jobs created against the county’s losses. Someone both proponents and opponents would find unbiased.
Yes, I’m a dreamer. Why do you ask?