How we respond to Orgill loss can determine our future

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A week after receiving the news, its still hard to swallow the fact that our community was a runner-up in the race for a new Orgill distribution center. Making the news doubly hard to accept was that it means the loss of the current Orgill facility in Vandalia.

Obviously, that news hits no one harder than the 140 or so employees of the Vandalia facility who know that they will have to find a new job and one that pays as well within a year.

Yet the loss of that facility reaches far, far beyond those employees and their families. Because of the impact the closure will have on the local economy, it impacts all of us.

The one good sign weve seen out of this is that the people of the community arent lining up to take shots at Vandalias leaders, arent complaining that the city could have or should have done more to land the new Orgill facility.

About 98 percent or so of the residents wont fully know everything that the city included in the incentives package it submitted to Orgill, but we think its safe to say that the city left no stone unturned in putting together a lucrative package. Even Orgill officials emphasized that point in announcing the companys decision.

Unfortunately, we had a couple of factors working against us, factors that were beyond our control. First, its no secret that many other states are more attractive to industries, what with Illinois laws governing such things as workers compensation, unemployment insurance and the trucking industry. Second, Sikeston better meets the companys needs for the location of its main distribution facility.

As we begin to recover from the blow dealt to us, many of us including city officials have the same question in the forefront of our minds "Where do we go from here?"

The good news is that facets of the package used to attempt to keep Orgill in town can also be used as the city continues its efforts to lure new industrial and commercial prospects. On top of that, Orgill has expressed a willingness to help us put someone into the distribution center on Veterans Avenue. It definitely cant hurt to have that kind of structure waiting for someone looking for a new home.

We have shown our resolve to work together as a community, to come together to help our fellow citizens and our hometown. The most obvious example is when the entire state watched us join together to save Vandalia Correctional Center several years ago.

Vandalia has much to offer, including a prime location along a major interstate highway and a major two-lane state highway, an improving infrastructure system and a comprehensive plan that expresses a commitment to aid the recruitment of business and industry.

But probably our best asset is us the residents of the Vandalia area. We have a reputation for a work force thats second to none and for being a town dedicated to working together.

Maintaining that attitude and approach will be vital as we move on from this setback.