Panolian Editorial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

‘Big Woody’ his own economic stimulus package

The business acumen that raised the fortunes of Woody Loden III and the rest of us along with it was best illustrated in his attitude towards finding new occupants for the commercial structures that he seemed constantly to be building.

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He spent much of his life buying property in areas where he saw potential for future commercial development, either near-term or long-term. Then he would start building, often against the collective conventional wisdom of local skeptics claiming that Woody had overbuilt.

Never fazed him.

If Woody had engaged no new occupant for his latest commercial construction as it neared completion, he would persuade the occupant of one of his existing properties into moving up. He would worry about the vacancy he had created in his existing property later.

“Big Woody” as we started referring to him when “Little Woody” — Fernando Woody Loden IV — honed the entrepreneurial expertise inherited from his father and grandfather — did this over and over and Batesville benefited.

He never settled for, “Build it and they will come.” Instead, he built it and then went out and found them. In the process he constantly stimulated the growth of retail business in this city, creating jobs, generating ad valorem and sales taxes and providing business opportunities.

Aldermen, supervisors and school trustees often faced Woody’s questions at budget hearings. Knowing that they were likely to have to be able to explain to Woody their justification for a proposed increase was enough to make elected officials do their homework better — even if Woody would be the only member of the public to attend the public hearings required for tax matters. And he often was. Woody’s insightful, tactful questions made elected officials better stewards of everybody’s money.

Woody’s philanthropy was consistent with his scriptural beliefs — giving out of sight and unheralded — yet much  appreciated by a grateful alma mater, among many.

This country is now in much debate about economic stimulus — where and how much to apply. Woody Loden III was an economic stimulus package in himself. His work to create business opportunities for himself and his family ventures multiplied into business opportunities that benefited our entire community.