Sunday, June 25, 2006

Priorities and Jobs

I was unable to attend all of the last city council meeting (hate having to make a living.) I checked the video of the meeting (which wasn't available until saturday for some technical reasons) and saw a lively discussion on the whole issue of whether or not grants are an effective way to help our economy grow.

Economic development grants are used in many cities as a matter of defense. The argument goes something like this: "Every other city uses grants so we need to just to stay competitive." To paraphrase my mom "If every other city jumped off a cliff, should we do it just to be competitive?"

During my research for the Sales Tax campaign, I found case after case of companies doing serious incentive shopping. The auto industry, for example, has been notorious for moving to a new city that will give them a deal on a new plant when they need new equipment. Once that grant is gone, they move on. Direct grants tend to fuel short term jobs.

A better use for that money would be making the city more attractive to businesses that will stay and put down deep roots. Good infrastructure, lower taxes, low crime, sensible zoning, fast and fair planning and permitting. Good schools, continuing education and a quality workforce. A community that meets their business and personal needs. A community that can be an extension of their family. These are what attract and keep businesses in a community.

We can bribe companies in to being here for a short time, but a business with a serious community relationship can't be bought.

It is good to see this finally being discussed seriously by the Mayor and Council.

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