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Sunday, December 27, 2009

What better time to reflect than the end of the year?

We’ve covered a broad range of topics in 2009, from rules of conduct for effective communication to county government reform. The canvas has been widespread. If I could look back on 2009 with any optimism I would say that our community has continued the daunting task of reshaping itself. What did we do successful this year?

The challenges of our time aren’t over. They are pushing us to be more creative, more engaged, and more hopeful than we have ever been. With such a broad canvas my hope is that each article written has contributed to identifying solutions that will help build community from the inside out.

The limits of our development are directly related to the way we think at large. In order to become national leaders in any area we cannot simply adopt measures that are presented to us by other communities. We must engage in a larger effort to think ahead of the curve. What does this community look like in 20 years? Our immediate needs are equally important as our long term long range goals.

There is a need for a sacrificial lamb. A need for an individual or group of people who realize pursuing a better community isn’t about politics, public recognition, or positions of favor, but about doing what has to be done for the greater cause of our community. It means that those individuals in the public and private sector will have to make the hard decisions today that they won’t get credit for until 10 years from now. It means that personal ambitions and goals have been put aside, if need be, to do what is right, fair, and noble.

As we reflect on 2009 and prepare for 2010, I see the doorway to the opportunity of a lifetime. There are obstacles that have rooted themselves in our path, but the future of our community depends on overcoming those challenges.
How do we overcome job losses in our town?

We foster an atmosphere for new businesses. We evaluate the projected trends of entrepreneurs and aim there. We find the top money makers of 2009 from around the world and make contact with them about who we are and where we are located. We capitalize on every university and research institution in our immediate area and intentionally strengthen our relationships with them. We encourage the use of modern technology in every area for every citizen. We invite our youth to join in our effort with their energy and creativity and talent on our boards, commissions, and leadership posts.

As we reflect on what happened last year may we accept our successes and failures and evaluate our challenge with our eyes wide open.

Let’s prepare to make history!

Jesse Wilkerson is the principal of a local architecture firm. He also hosts Vision for Success on 1240 WHBU-AM. His column appears every other Monday on the Business page. Follow him on Twitter at

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where does all the money go and how do we get there?

As of recently, I have wanted to find more information on how government spending is appropriated? I am a part of a design team collaboration that applied for federal funding along with 21,000 other grant seekers from across the nation.

As a citizen, you might wonder where contracting dollars and grant awards are spent.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes information for each Federal award. It is an Act of Congress that requires disclosure to the public of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds.

A website maintained by The Office of Management and Budget opened in December 2007 as a result of the act. A price tag of $15 million was estimated by The Congressional Budget Office over its authorized time period through 2011 to run the database. View the site for yourself at

The site gives a comprehensive listing of charts that highlight the name of the entity receiving the award, the amount of the award, information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, the location of the entity receiving the award, and a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

According to the site the data is largely from sources: the Federal Procurement Data System and the Federal Assistance Award Data System.
The top 3 contracts to date for the 2009 fiscal year to have received federal dollars are: 1) Lockheed Martin Corporation - $29 billion 2) The Boeing Company - $18 billion 3) General Dynamics Corp. - $12 billion. As a city, it is vitally important that these companies know who we are, where we are located, and receive a steady amount of marketing material about doing business with our town.

Roughly 50% of 2009 spending went towards grants given out by the government ($679 billion). Several local government agencies and local companies have received federal funding according to the website’s data which goes clear back to the year 2000.

For example previously listed Anderson company Global Fleet Sales Inc with a listed address of 720 Maplewood Avenue has received multiple grants of which the last was $9 million in early 2006. The Anderson Airport received roughly $2.4 million in 2008 for airport improvements.

As a state Indiana ranks 25th in receipt of federal dollars with a $5.3 billion in regards to place of performance (1.5% of what was given out in nationally 2009).

However these decisions are made, there has been billions of dollars appropriated to communities across the country. As we continue to track federal spending it is my hope for the sake of our community that we find out how to be positioned at the center of what is being given out nationally.

Jesse Wilkerson is the principal of a local architecture firm. He also hosts Vision for Success 1240 AM WHBU. His column appears every other Monday on the Business page.