February 27, 2003
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Lessons in business

Nothing is simple in the business world. Consider what’s going on at Vernay Laboratories. Since the company announced last year that it would close its two Dayton Street plants, Vernay has changed its closure timetable numerous times. In a story in this week’s News, the company’s president and CEO, Tom Allen, now says the schedule has been moved up and Vernay’s largest plant will close by June or July. He also said that the company’s headquarters might eventually move out of town to accommodate an increase in workers who will be relocating to its East South College Street facility.

The point is not to criticize Vernay, but to use this situation as an example of how murky the shifting interests of business can be; about how difficult it is for a community to rely on a limited number of companies to provide a substantial amount of jobs and tax dollars; and that it will not be easy to replace a company like Vernay once the plant doors are finally shut.

It also shows that it is more likely that local companies, not out-of-town businesses, will occupy the commerce park. Considering the difficulty Vernay has had moving its operations to other plants in the South, it seems prudent for the community to concentrate on getting existing businesses to stay here and grow in the park. Perhaps, for instance, Vernay can be persuaded to relocate its corporate offices in the park.

Before Village Council agreed last week to partner with Community Resources, efforts related to the commerce park had been sputtering. The agreement, which will charge Community Resources with securing land and finding a developer to build and fill the park, is welcomed since it now gives concrete direction for the commerce park concept. The next steps are now better formulated. It should also keep the initiative’s momentum rolling.

—Robert Mihalek