Even though you have a gut feeling it’s good for the future and research tends to back you up, making decisions to proceed can be difficult and, yes, costly.
That is what Lee County commissioners learned the other day when they voted 3-2 to proceed with investing $10 million in previously earmarked local stimulus money in a business aiming to turn algae into ethanol.
The goal, according to Algenol CEO Paul Woods of Bonita Springs, is $1 per gallon fuel.
Algenol also means 100 jobs — at first, Woods says.
That is where commissioners had a hard time. For two of them, the math — the return on investment — did not work. For the other three, the proposition represented a crossroads. Commissioners Ray Judah, Tammy Hall and Bob Janes had the courage to make a leap of faith. They know that a retooled economy has to start somewhere, and once research and development gets a toehold in an area, it goes from there. That would mean expansion and good, sustainable job opportunities.
Other parts of Florida and our country already know this. We are playing catch-up.
We are also learning it’s expensive.
But at least we have made a step forward. Lee was fortunate to be in the position of making such a choice.
The better news is that in this field of economic development/redevelopment, something good happening in one area is good for its neighbors too.