Identifying problems first step to finding solutions

Published 12:40 am Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ask 100 people what they believe is the biggest issue facing Winchester and Clark County and you will almost certainly receive one of two answers in a majority of instances: drugs or lack of good jobs.

In some cases, it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg argument as to which is truly the driving factor in something that is clearly tied together.

Do people use and sell drugs because there are not enough quality jobs available? Or do businesses look elsewhere for development opportunities because the perception that drug abuse is rampant in eastern and central Kentucky?

It is impossible to say for sure but it is indisputable that the two have some correlation. What we must do, as a community, is figure out how to break the cycle and create lasting change.

Unfortunately, there is not a magic bullet that immediately solves all the problems. It will take an incremental approach on multiple fronts to build our community into the best version of itself.

When it comes to economic development, experts say the key is providing incentives and tools for businesses looking to expand or grow.

Are we promoting vacant properties? Are we offering incentives for businesses to invest here? Are we working as a community to provide the infrastructure and quality of life offerings that make a place attractive?

I think, in many cases, the answer is yes. Can we do more? Absolutely, but it takes a unified effort that includes public-private partnerships to make this happen.

The mentality of relying on the government to solve all our problems must end.

Business owners and citizens have to become actively engaged in promoting, developing and showcasing their community.

The drug epidemic is a far more complicated issue that every community in America is facing.

First, efforts must start with law enforcement focused on stopping the suppliers at all levels.

Second, treatment programs for addiction and education efforts for our youth can help break what becomes generational cycles.

Third, re-entry and training programs are vital tools to help keep people from sliding back into the same destructive habits.

No one has all the answers but, together we can make our communities thrive. Identifying a problem is always the first step to finding solutions.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.