Bob Mitchell: Time to wake up, Cassville

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What could be the most important project for Cassville in the New Year is possibly the revitalization of the Industrial Development Corp. (IDC).

For the last decade or so, there has been no progress toward industrial economic development. The fact exists that manufacturing payroll numbers have declined.

Part of the reason is that the board of directors of the Industrial Development Corp. has its hands tied in being unable to modernize by-laws that were developed in the 1950s without provisions of keeping the corporation functional to fit modern-day activities and operations.

During this time, the board has been the scapegoat of many criticisms for inaction, some of which have been of their own making.

Stock problem

Over nearly six decades, 1,952 shares of the IDC stock have been sold out of the 2,000 shares authorized by the original incorporation of the board. Actually, at the time, it appeared that would be sufficient to handle infant needs of the community. However, things later changed and the organization became owner of property, and community support fulfilled industrial development needs.

Now, with obvious changes in structure of the corporation needed, it has not been possible to gather enough stockholders -- 51 percent -- to make any by-law changes or modifications to make the IDC more functional.

By-laws prohibit voting of absentee stock in any IDC meeting, a regulation installed many years ago to prohibit officers from gathering proxies and dominating meetings, a practice that was abused in early years. With the deaths of individuals, and businesses being no longer functional, leaves a big holding of stocks either lost or possibly destroyed. Since it was generally known from the beginning there would be no payback on the $25 per share cost, most investors were simply giving the IDC a vehicle to proceed with using other methods of acquiring payrolls for the community.

Personal and business investment -- from $50,000 to $40,000 to $30,000 to $20,000 today during individual efforts -- were handled by the IDC as land purchases or incentives to acquire past and present payrolls.

Big shortage

Review of the stocks issued indicate today just less than 500 shares can be accounted for as available if all those holders were to be accounted for and available for needed business sessions, a virtual impossibility.

In some cases, families have transferred stock to another individual or business upon death or moving out of the community of the original holder. There is no provision in the by-laws for the board of directors to purchase stock. If such provision existed, the IDC would not have sufficient funds to purchase all outstanding stock. Should those funds be available, the buy-back would not be possible under present provisions.

Industrial efforts

During the 1970s, when Cassville's industrial development efforts were most extensive and successful, the IDC was able to move quickly, with the cooperation of others, utilities and city government in completing manufacturing firms into bringing their plants here. As a result of these efforts, payrolls once numbered more than the population of the town.

Since that time, downward trends and moving of firms from Cassville leaves two major buildings open -- Luck E Strike Mfg. (33,000 square feet) and the Thorco building (104,000 square feet.) These two structures could be the basis for additional payrolls for the community.

New ideas

The five-member IDC board has researched many possibilities for providing new tools for further payroll efforts for the community. But, first, this original IDC stock problem must be solved and there are several possibilities in the works unless this unavailable stock location hasn't been solved.

There is a possibility some might be located in old family papers or it could have been destroyed when survivors discovered there was no means of reimbursing stockholders for the purchase they made several years ago.

Purchased monthly

Originally, the stock was either sold outright for $25 a share, or banks would withhold $4 monthly until the purchase price of the stock was complete and a certificate would be issued. Most of the stockholders hold only a few shares due to the method the purchase was made.

Stock issued was on a certificate and recorded with the secretary. These records are held by the current board for those who wish to make some disposal of the certificate or certificates to assist the IDC in making changes in their operations, thus becoming more viable in the communities' economic efforts.

A personal note

It is a good thing this ended short, since there is a spot for a New Year's wish from all the Mitchell families, you know where you are. It's our hope your 2015 will be your best ever and God's Good Wishes will be on you and your family during the coming 365 days.

And, if your efforts can help the IDC efforts and subsequently the Cassville community, as it was once said, "Get in and make a hand."

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.