After talking this week to a man who hopes to open a large business in a vacant Belfast building — someone who has a great idea and the expertise to do it, but no money — we were reminded of something a Belfast city official once said in passing: “Those who do don’t talk. Those who talk don’t do.”

Over the past year, we’ve entertained the latest vision of converting the former Stinson Seafood Cannery into a hotel, retail, office and marina complex; we’ve looked at models and other supporting materials relating to the proposed Belfast Civic Center (114 days until grand opening, the Website claimed on May 19); and we’ve heard tall talk of renovating the old Opera House.

The idea of a small business incubator has been appended to nearly every other proposal that has come along. Discussions of the food storage facility have moved from former city councilor Jan Anderson, who championed the idea but didn’t want to do it herself, to someone who would do it, if he had the money. The leaders of these efforts have been passionate and confident. The stumbling block, in every case, has been the absence of money.

Given the meager amounts of venture capital circulating in Midcoast Maine during good times, we’re not surprised that during a heavy-duty recession there are more good ideas than dollars to fund them. We’re also not surprised that all of these good ideas — no one has proposed to build, say, an offshore garbage incinerator in the harbor — are no further along than when they were announced. The old Stinson Cannery is still a derelict ruin, despite the city’s demand that one of the more ghostly buildings be torn down. The former Mathews Brothers showroom is still on the market, and as far as we know, the Opera House is still … well, the Opera House.

Despite the fact that nothing seems to be happening, having a surplus of good ideas is better than having none. And the prospects for funding them may be getting better soon.

The city is on the verge of hiring an economic development director, who will hopefully bring some clarity to the role of government in supporting the local economy. Our conversations with city officials suggest that the City won’t be making any big moves until the new hire weighs in.

Belfast was also recently accepted into the Maine Downtown Network, which appears as though it will give the city advantages in seeking grants for projects that would benefit new and exisiting local businesses, as well as technical assistance in applying for state and federal money.

For better or worse, the city, with its nearly-$4 million surplus, is the major financial player in Belfast right now. And while some would argue that the surplus should remain at its current level as a safety net, and others would say that the city should return any extra money to taxpayers in the form of a refund or reduction to the mill rate, the majority of the City Council appears willing to consider using some of that money to invest in a project that would boost the local economy. As we see it, that would be more than a great idea.