Jan 312013



Thursday, January 31, 2013

At its annual planning retreat last weekend, the Greenville City Council expended considerable energy examining ways to make the community more attractive to potential employers. The discussion represented part of a larger economic development initiative whereby the council intends to expand the employer base through targeted marketing, recruitment and other related efforts.

With resources like East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, the medical complex and a diverse, educated workforce, the community is already attractive to potential business. But in some areas — most notably in its instances of crime — Greenville will need to make strides if it hopes to facilitate the type of economic growth that council members and residents alike desire.

The annual planning retreat intends to provide city officials a relaxed and collegial atmosphere in which to take the long view on the many forces and priorities facing the community. This year, members devoted much of the agenda to economic development and the need to make a more concerted effort to reduce unemployment by bringing new business to town.

One potential impediment to recruitment efforts is the city’s crime rate which, while in decline, contributes to low confidence in public safety among residents. Violent crime may be lower than five and 10 years ago, but Greenville continues to fight an unfair reputation for being a dangerous place to live and work. While crime occurs here as in any other metropolitan area, several high profile incidents have served to skew perception.

Two recent incidents serve to illustrate the problem. On Jan. 20, a man leaving a grocery store in the early afternoon was attacked without warning or provocation by a man with a sharp object who then fled the area. And last weekend, an altercation in front of a nightclub in the early morning hours escalated into gunshots while Greenville police were already on the scene.

In both cases, the suspects were arrested. And neither should act as an indictment of the police department’s tremendous efforts to combat crime. But it does show that these terrible acts are not confined to the early morning hours or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nor does the presence of uniformed officers deter those bent on creating mayhem.

They do show that continued vigilance by all those at City Hall, at the police department and throughout the judicial system is needed to make strides on public safety. And it underscores that, absent success in that area, the city may find its economic development overtures falling on deaf ears.

via The Daily Reflector.


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