Affordable housing needed in city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gov. Bob Riley's visit to Greenville a few weeks ago certainly made for some positive reinforcement, didn't it? If you didn't attend you missed Riley bending over backwards to compliment Greenville and its leadership on the phenomenal growth we've experienced the last few years.

Whether you agree or not with all that's been done to lure jobs here, (both industrial and retail), I don't believe any person who has the greater good of the community at heart can argue that the quality of life in Greenville is not better than it was five, or even ten years ago.

While one would expect Riley to point out all the good things happening here, especially in an election year, it should not go unnoticed that, yes, things really are better here than they've ever been. As we've pointed out in numerous stories the past few years, the number of unemployed people in Butler County continues to fall, now near an all-time low, but that creates other challenges unique to such a situation.

After Riley's hour of &#8220back patting” was over, he posed the question to me that it will be interesting to see how &#8220we” react when one of our Hyundai suppliers doubles in size due to the proposed construction of the Kia plant in Georgia. What that means is potentially adding another 700 direct and indirect jobs in the automotive industry in Butler County. If you consider that 700 jobs equates to 700 new households with 1,600 people, you can see where the problem lies. It's a good problem to have, and better than the alternative, but a problem nonetheless.

Quality, affordable housing in Greenville is non-existent. Our local realtors are simply running out of properties to offer as their inventories shrink to the point where they are struggling to meet demand. Infrastructure needs need to be moved to the front burner. One only needs to take a drive around the Exit 130 to see evidence of that. And it's only going to get worse (or better as it were).

The city is currently working on a long range comprehensive plan to address some of these things, which is forward thinking, but activity in that area has slowed and needs to be reenergized. The longer it takes to finalize that plan, the more opportunities will be missed to grow this community in a way that will enhance the environment and quality of life.

I think back to what the town I grew up in was like before Mercedes moved 30 miles up Interstate 20. It's a different place now, forever changed with a new set of unique challenges. What happened there is happening here now. Are we prepared for it? If not, we better get shifted into high gear because it's coming, whether we're ready or not.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Greenville Advocate. He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 125, or by email: dennis.palmer@greenvilleadvocate.com.