Pensacola, Florida
Saturday November 22nd 2014

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Outtakes—Preparing for War

The book “The Coming Jobs War” has been making the rounds among local business leaders. Written by Jim Clifton, chairman of the national polling firm Gallup, and published in October 2011, the book asserts that job creation will surpass all other issues nationally and globally.

His message is “a good job” is more important than freedom, the war on terrorism, budget deficits and climate change. According to Gallup’s World Poll, there are three billion people out of seven billion who want a good job. There are only 1.2 billion jobs to go around. So there’s a shortfall of 1.8 billion jobs.

The “war” will be, according to Clifton, over how and where new good jobs will be created. He writes that the solution lies not in the federal government, but in cities. And that is what has gotten the attention of local leaders. He believes the focus should be on helping grow small and medium-sized companies, which are the primary job creators and employers.

And by cities, Clifton doesn’t mean the politicians are the ones who need to drive job creation. Government can’t create jobs because that’s not government’s job. Businesses create jobs.

Therefore, the politicians need to focus on creating an environment that helps them do so—streamlining permitting processes, building infrastructure and offering solutions not roadblocks to growth.

The other issue is public education and ensuring its graduates can be hired for the jobs that are being created. They need to be taught how the free enterprise works, how to build their own business and contribute to the community.

How do Pensacola and Escambia County stack up? Are we prepared for the “jobs war” or will we lose jobs to south Alabama and neighboring Florida counties?

In his 2013 State of the City address, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward appeared willing to join the fight for jobs. He pledged to support job creation and job creators, promote workforce education, push transparent, streamlined business processes and maximize existing city assets.

Jerry Maygarden, CEO of the Greater Pensacola Chamber, has begun discussion on separating economic development from his organization into a new non-profit that will focus on attracting businesses to the area and creating jobs. The private sector appears to be poised to take the lead.

The problem is talking about jobs does not create jobs. Straightforward analysis of local government processes, public education, job training and other initiatives has to be done without political hyperbole, and verifiable measurements should be established to show the progress being made.

It’s time to get to work.