Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 39
Published in the Warrensburg Gazette April 20, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

A recent report on The Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center ("TGWACC&VC" is the appropriate abbreviation, based on their ad for a new logo) activities indicated that they want to recruit agri-business. This raises a few questions: does 'agri-business' mean farmers, businesses serving farmers, or both? What could they possibly offer farmers to make it worthwhile to join?

Let's look at the current composition of TGWACC&VC's membership. I used the recently-published "The Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce 2000 Community Profile and Business Directory" (formerly known as the Warrensburg Guide), which lists TGWACC&VC members, as a source. I recognize that these numbers may not be exact today, but they provide a good indication.

Membership is heavily influenced by institutions and non-profits. Central Missouri State University has 63 memberships; I don't know if these are paid by the University or "expected" of administrators or department chairs. The City of Warrensburg has 13 memberships, part of the consideration for their subsidizing of TGWACC&VC. The Warrensburg R-VI School District has 13 memberships for principals & administrators (School Board members - do you think this a proper use of tax money?). Membership includes 18 other institutions & non-profits, 27 medical industry firms (including some that are tax supported), 12 industries & utilities, and 18 financial industry firms (banks, loans, advisors).

However, only 149 other businesses located in the Warrensburg area are shown as members. I did some comparison with the yellow pages and noted that only 14 of 40 restaurants with Warrensburg phone numbers belong. Similarly, TGWACC&VC membership shows 3 of 13 barber & beauty shops, 1 of 4 discount stores, 1 of 4 auto parts stores, 1 of 4 veterinarians, 1 used car dealer, 5 auto repair shops, and 1 convenience store, and so on. It's clear that many members of the small business community have no confidence in what TGWACC&VC can do for them.

The latest fad in chambers is to call their dues "investments." So, I'd caution farmers and other agri-businesses: when approached by the Chamber, analyze the "investment" like you would any other - make them prove the benefits you will harvest. You'll have to decide whether they really want you to help "hedge" the "futures" of Warrensburg, or just make a down payment on an emu ranch.

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