Sanderson Farms: Elected Officials Should Dread the Red
No doubt about it, the Fayetteville Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Alliance have put out a call to action to rally the residents of Cumberland County in support of Sanderson Farms, a highly respected and well-managed chicken processing plant that wants to locate in our community.
Good jobs? Good corporate citizens? What’s not to like? Why a call to action? As has been debated over the past several months, this financially sound and nationally recognized poultry business doesn’t suit several hundred local residents for a plethora of reasons and has them seeing red.
And that’s okay. This is America and they have every right to voice their opinions; however, they do not have the right to their own facts, which do not jibe with all of the national reports and information concerning the plant.
I applaud the Chamber of Commerce and all of the local and statewide agencies that have rallied to bring jobs and economic prosperity to Cumberland County. I think it is time to give credit where credit is due.
This isn’t just any chicken plant. It is Sanderson Farms, the third largest – and most respected chicken producer in America. Sanderson Farms, a corporation that was named in Forbes Magazine’s “100 Most Trusted Companies.” This already beats the hell out of the bogus $247 million E-85 ethanol plant that was presented several years ago to Cumberland County elected officials and endorsed and promoted by a very small special-interest group. That project had everyone – including our elected officials – giddy about the prospect.
Thankfully, that development never happened. Why? Information: factual and honest information. Unfortunately, that same type of factual information that is being presented to inform the community about Sanderson Farms is being lost in the cacophony of faulty information. The difference being that the special interest group is more vocal and its motives and bias are not as transparent, but its rallying call – the wearing of red shirts is.
What is also different this time around is the fact that the city, county and Chamber of Commerce have done their due diligence. Please, read the reports, which were commissioned by the City of Fayetteville and are now posted online. These reports represent independent third party perspectives on the economic, social and environmental impacts of this project. Read them at: www.sandersonfacts.com/reports/Dr.%20Neff-Sharum%20Sanderson%20Farms
I also urge our city and county elected officials to read them carefully. There seems to be a small thread of confusion and potential hypocrisy developing over the Sanderson Farms issue where some elected officials are concerned based on what I am hearing from other City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents. They brought it to my attention, although it is a matter of public record that the main concerns voiced by city and county residents in recent public hearings are community crime, unemployment, homelessness and education. With that in mind, how can any elected official be opposed to the Sanderson Farms opportunity unless they are vying more for money and votes rather than concerning themselves with the quality of life and welfare of tens of thousands residents?
Think about it.
How can you say you are against crime and not support 1,100 job opportunities? How can you pledge to decrease homelessness and not provide people with a means to affordable housing? How can you say you want to increase the quality of life of residents and deny them access to full-time employment with health benefits?
I know how politics work. But, at some juncture, the voice of reason, responsibility, compassion, common sense and a sense of decency should trump all other motives.
Who are we (or they) to thumb our noses at 1,100 jobs, a decent hourly wage of $11 an hour, a capital investment of $134 million and utilizing a county-owned business park (Cedar Creek Business Center) that Cumberland County taxpayers paid for nearly 15 years ago?
In closing, let me say I respect those who are against Sanderson Farms. It is their right. I will (and have) provide the editorial space for this topic to be debated. However, concerning this issue, all eyes of this community should be on our elected officials. The Sanderson Farms project will define their true intentions, loyalty, integrity, intestinal fortitude and commitment to the residents of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. A vote for Sanderson Farms will mean that these elected officials understand:
1. The correlation between crime and unemployment.
2. The pro and con effects of the federal dollar on our community.
3. The need and priority of diversifying our local economy.
4. The impact of the potential loss of the 440th Airlift Wing and 1,200 jobs.
5. The potential loss of the U.S. Postal Service sorting facility (300+ jobs)
6. That another BRAC could potentially cost us thousands of Fort Bragg jobs.
7. The fact that 80 percent of our elementary-aged school children are on free or reduced lunch programs.
This is my personal call to action to all of our readers. It doesn’t make any difference what side of the issue you are on as long as you are armed with factual information. Contact your elected official and let them hear your perspectives. Start the dialog.
However, if you believe that the Sanderson Farms project has merit and that the addition of jobs and the ongoing capital investment will have a positive impact on the greater good of Cumberland County, let your elected officials know. We cannot be silent on this issue nor can we allow our elected officials to stymy and forfeit the futures of generations to come. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.