Kokomo Mayor, Councilman Spar Over Economic Negotiations

Kokomo's mayor is blasting a city councilman for his handling of a behind-the-scenes relationship between the city and a possible business investor.

Backhaul Direct website

Photo: www.backhauldirect.com

An argument over how the city dealt with shipping company Backhaul Direct pits Kokomo's mayor against a member of the Kokomo Common Council.

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. 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.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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