During this week’s city council meeting, councilman Bob Cameron questioned whether economic development officials were doing all they could to bring jobs to the city, after what he says was a lackluster effort on behalf of city officials to offer investment incentives to a company with ties to former mayor Matt McKillip. The company, Backhaul Direct, is reportedly looking to create 137 jobs in the shipping efficiency business, but those dealings had been behind closed doors. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said that’s as it should have been, until Cameron possibly jeopardized the talks by bringing them to light…
“He just doesn’t get it,” Goodnight said. “Call it political daggers or just frustration — you don’t do these things in public settings. We’ve got to let our economic development leaders do their jobs, work out things, get information to companies. These companies don’t want being called by the press or different newspapers. He just was completely irresponsible.”
Cameron brushed off the mayor’s comments. “That’s just him saying that,” he said. “He and I, at best, would have a weak platonic relationship.”
Cameron said unnamed employees in the mayor’s office have told him a cold relationship between Goodnight and McKillip may have led to mayoral nonchalance when it came to offering incentives to Backhaul Direct.
“The word around here is it’s his way or the highway, but I do what’s best for the people in this community,” the councilman said. When I see the opportunity for that many jobs and a growth in four years to 350 employees — as much unemployment as we have in this community — I don’t care who it is. If they’re legit and they have a good business, get it here.”
Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Goodnight defended the city’s efforts, saying the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance was doing all it could to bring jobs to the city, which is still struggling with 14% unemployment.