Sunday, November 15, 2009

As FROED looks to expand its base, maybe we should look in a different direction.

Good news the source of Fall River's economic turnaround, the key to our Renaissance is offering its assistance to our neighboring communities!

That's right the Fall River Office of Economic Development "broadening its base to include the surrounding towns of Freetown, Somerset, and Westport".

Oh Joy! Really this sounds like General Motors announcing they are purchasing Chrysler! I don't want to be unfairly critical but what exactly has the FROED done in it's roughly 30 years of existence?

Really, it seems that the usual FROED announcement involves a few low paying jobs with the potential for MORE low paying jobs. Honestly Fall River is depressed, low wages, low rent, low property values. We do not need an agency to help exploit the city. What we need an agency that can work to find companies that will benefit from what we have here and at the same time bring the things we need to build on.

I just don't see FROED doing that.

You know several other "Gateway Cities" seem to be doing better than Ol' Fall River without the help of a quasi public office of economic development. Fall River-tastic recently posted that Ken Fiola, the head of the Office of Economic Development makes roughly $170,000 a year. Shamrock points out that Taunton's equivalent about $70,000. What Shamrock didn't point out is that the combined salaries for that office is just under $200,000 or that the budget for the entire department (including salaries) is about $250,000. Lowell has a staff of 5 handling economic developement at a cost of rougly $270,000 and pays its head about $75,000. In New Bedford the head of economic development makes roughly $100,000.

Let's recap here, Ken Fiola makes $170,000 and his counterpart in Lowell makes $75,000, in Taunton $70,000, and in New Bedford $100,000. These other communities are arguably doing better than Fall River so what benefit do we really get from FROED? What is the budget for the office of economic development? $800-900,000 a year? (By the way, I'm told FROED has been running at a deficit for the last 4 years!!) Taunton is spending 1/3 that! Maybe instead of watching FROED expand what we need to do is sever our ties to the organization and look for some grant money to fund an in house municipal department instead. One that is focused on Fall River and accountable to residents of the city.


Lazurusisus said...

As I have written om my own blog space, this is all about expanding opportunities, at little risk, for the City's biggest banks and lending institutions to make money at virtually no risk by leveraging federal grant monies with associated loan gaurentees and low cost, to banks, from federal sources. They might, for example, pay back the feds 2%, but loan out at 8 % and have the feds gauentee the loans, hence no risk. All this in order to expand business and create jobs.Problem is, no loans are being made in Fall River because FROED can't convince anyone else to expand here in the land of 50% HS dropouts, no puiblic safety officers and a skyrocketing crime rate. Most important, all the old croanie names are involved with the project, and it seems more like a way to keep FROED going to help out the banks and take care of ol' Hamhocks patronage hires and as payback to the banks and businesses for their support before he's out of office.

Lazurusisus said...

Bt the way...if you can prove what I'm saying ISN'T true, be my me the error of my Junior Soprano said to Tony , "Come heavy, or don't come at all!"

Anonymous said...


I find it amusing they finally published Fiola's salary AFTER Shamrock blogged it.

You can take Fiola's salary and pay 5 commissioned sales reps to do the job. Give them a bonus if they bring jobs to fall river.

What has been the ROI for FROED over 30 years ?? I know it is not entirely funded by the city but it is funded by the FED - our tax dollars.

So either way they work for US.


Anonymous said...

If you look at what he has actually done in terms of jobs brought to Fall River and job retained and not lost then Ken Fiola is grossly overpaid. Other communities are doing better with Economic Development directors making 70 to 100k and somehow in poor,depressed Fall River we can afford to shell out 170k, almost 200k for Ken Fiola! What's wrong with this picture?