But other industrial development projects can involve considerable risks, as local leaders learned the hard way a generation ago with Rockwell International.
After years of labor disputes, Rockwell left town in the 1990s and left a hole in our local economy and community life.
The company also left elected officials a big building that had housed its truck axle plant. Fortunately the building was sold, and money from the sale is still being used to fund community projects.
In recent years, the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority, along with city and county governments, has worked to recruit small industries as well as non-industrial firms. They have worked together with other groups to try to recruit restaurants and retailers, expand existing businesses and redevelop shopping centers. They've even been involved in efforts to revitalize downtown, where some of the smallest businesses are located.
But small is good. Small businesses collectively employ more Americans than large businesses do, and they're often rooted in their communities.
That doesn't mean Winchester shouldn't go after larger businesses too, but local leaders should be careful about how they assist and what costs are involved.
One recent proposal that appears to hold considerable promise is that for a $300 million sports and entertainment complex near the 96 Interchange of I-64. The sports arena, with a variety of indoor athletic fields and space for developing restaurants, hotels and a movie theater, could provide up to 2,000 construction jobs and, in five years, 1,500 permanent jobs.
The incentive package involves a tax increment finance district, industrial revenue bonds, and a land purchase agreement - all structured so that local governments are "not out any money," and it's "all performance-based," according to Todd Denham, the economic development director.
We encourage our leaders to proceed with caution on both the sports arena and biodiesel plant, and we applaud their efforts to look beyond industry in developing our local economy.
Diversity is the key to stability.