By Mark Cowling
Florence Reminder Blade-Tribune
In the Town Council’s first public discussion of the town’s new business report, there were aspects the council members found interesting, puzzling … but perhaps nothing quite as confounding as the blame directed at the “good ol’ boy network.”
Council member Bill Hawkins asked Bowles to define “good ol’ boy network.”
Bowles replied that in general political terms, it’s a “back-patting system. … You have to be in an internal circle of people in-the-know or in power to get anything done. It correlates very closely with [the] ‘old blood vs. new blood’ [complaint].”
Bowles added that these are opinions and perceptions, but “in no way fact.”
The council discussed the town’s “Business Retention and Expansion Report 2012” at its Sept. 4 meeting. The report is a result of a detailed survey of 82 local businesses earlier this year by town Economic Development Coordinator Scott Bowles, with the assistance of a local committee. Details of the report were reported in last week’s Florence Reminder.
The majority of businesses surveyed said there were specific barriers to growth in Florence. They most often cited a “good ol’ boy” system of politics (25 percent), resistance to growth and change (21 percent) and lack of community marketing (11 percent).
Nearly half (46 percent) who believe there are barriers to growth pointed to either elected officials or the reception of the community as the main obstacle. Some businesses pointed out a similar issue but described it as “old blood vs. new blood,” explaining some are distrustful of those who were not born and raised here.
Council member Tom Celaya asked how the survey respondents relate good ol’ boys to a political roadblock, or how it affects consumers.
Bowles said being stymied by the good ol’ boy network is a “very common” feeling in rural communities. “Please do not take offense but listen to what they say.” He said there’s at least the perception that that barrier exists.