Friday, March 21, 2014

Economic Development

I will not have a blog Monday (not that there is a schedule) because I'm taking part in yet another UW-Hospital study for big bucks.!  This one is a 10 hour cardio study.  A cardio study sounds a little harder then a sleep study.  I hope they don't make me do any exercise.

Also - I was hoping I was not going to get the question about Economic Development because I thought I had a good chance of winning ONE BILLION DOLLARS of which I would donate $100 to the City for Econ Development.  I do what I can.   BUT - I went 13-3 in the brackets and I sent an email to my good friend Warren Buffett for a do-over.  Harvard??  COME ON!!             

How should the city approach economic development in both the downtown and outlying areas. 

NOTE - in my response I completely forgot about THE NORTH EAST GATEWAY into Mullinland.  I forgot because I just figured that area has it together and does not need help.  HOWEVER - a river walk would be awesome cool.
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When we lost Steve Sobiak our Economic Development Adviser to Portage we lost a huge salesman for Columbus and his shoes will be hard to fill. I’m concerned that no one ever asked Steve for any recommendations on who to fill his shows.

 I feel Columbus needs to grow naturally and organically when it comes to business.

What does that mean?

It means if we make Columbus a place that is people friendly, business will come naturally without giving away huge risky long term financially unstable incentives.

We should not have to beg for business. We have so much going for us as it is. Our marketing should not be “Come to Columbus because we are cheap” it should be “Come to Columbus because you will grow and your employees will love living here”.

Let’s talk about the three Economic areas.

The Commerce Center – it is what it is, a place where people can go and buy STUFF. It ain’t pretty but every town needs an area like this and it serves a purpose. It captures people traveling through the area and makes then stop and every time a car stops someone makes money. I wish it was Columbus but it’s not. The only thing we can hope for is that some of the employees live in Columbus.

The taxes we get from business do not even come close to the long term fiscal burden that area puts on Columbus. Anybody that tells you that business fills our coffers is a short term thinker, not long term.   BUT – again, it serves a purpose, a place for people to buy stuff which makes them happy and makes Columbus a better place to live which is what I’m all about.

The (south west) Gateway – Totally different animal. I’ve talked briefly to Curt Hanson and I like his vision. If the Commerce Center is quantity, The Gateway is Quality.

I personally have a man crush in the Enerpac facility and it will keep looking better every year as the Maples grow. It’s a huge calling card for Columbus. I have not seen the plans for the area but if we can keep a tight control making sure this area continues grow in a beautiful and architecturally vibrant direction it will only help draw people into . . . . . .

the downtown.

Here is where Mr. Optimism trips of the sidewalk a little. If you could have been with me during the filming of Public Enemies as I interviewed people from all over the world you would be amazed at the compliments!

BUT – like all towns our size it’s a problem. Columbus is unique in hit beauty but not unique with the business problem. There is hope on the horizon but it comes at a price.

We have The Broadway Theatre moving forward and you can not underestimate the impact this will have to downtown. We also have the 16/60 reconstruction which will be like pulling off a giant scab, it’s going to REALLY hurt but the results will take the “tired” and “old”label off the downtown area. The difference between now and 2 years from now will be amazing.

To answer the question – Columbus should grow naturally, like all cities did for hundreds generations, it’s a time tested proven strategy. We need to stop looking desperate and stop giving money away that should be used for Quality of Life expenses. We need to put the citizens of Columbus first because by doing that business will follow.