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Thread: The continuing fight for new industrial development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    The continuing fight for new industrial development

    This morning in the Pittsburgh on-line Post-Gazette newspaper there was an article about their attempt to bring in a proposed Airbus manufacturing facility. The giant French corporation's facility needs include access to a deep-water port, a sizeable airstrip, and the ability to efficiently move very large items from port to airport with minimum infratstructure problems.

    Allegheny County officials believe they can meet the needs of Airbus and bring to the area over 1100 high-paying jobs. They also indicated, though, that they will have a tought time competing against Alabama. "Alabama is too aggresive", was a comment they made.

    Other Cyburbia threads have mentioned America's southland and have stated different reasons why corporations now tend to place new manufacturing centers in that part of the country. Those reasons included unions (or lack thereof), right-to-work states, weather, cost-of-living, population center moving south, aging infrastructure of "rust belt", etc.

    Toledo, OH, engages in similar bidding wars for new industry. Most often they don't even make the first cut. When Toledo does get a new facility it is usually because of transportation reasons.....such as the new just-in-time providers to a giant Jeep assembly plant on Toledo's north side.

    A few questions:

    Are you involved with any agencies that are promoting your community for future industrial development? Is your community aggresive in this pursuit? Does that aggresive attitude include tax deferment? What is your "personal" take on industrial development for your "back yard"?

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    Oh the old economic incentive game... the intent of these programs were designed to level the playing field and attract industry which ordinarly would locate some where else because of that particular site's strengths. So in lieu of being able to meet those advantages you offer tax breaks, land, employee training, etc... This is suppose to make up for your sites weakness and make you more competive. The intrested industry either decides yes i can deal with a lack of skilled work force in exchange for your package or tells you that its not good enough.

    In theory it sounds great but now you have the prime locations competing against marginal places and you get bidding wars going and the truth be told the companies wind up locating at their ideal site, which they would have anyways reguardless of the incentives, so now they get pay to be where they wanted to be.

    The whole thing needs to be looked at and regulated on the Federal level, which will never happen.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    The town next door lost 350 jobs when fire destroyed a meat packing plant a couple of years ago. They have been on the decline ever since. A new industry is looking to locate there. The town has offered $2million in incentives (tax abatements, free roads and sewerage, and a bunch more). Due to their economic plight, perhaps not a bad offer. It could even increase their tax base, and fill vacant houses.

    Now our ED persons want to see what we can do to offer a greater enticement. We do not face the same conditions, it would be tax burden for us.

  4. #4

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    Post-industrial reality sucks if you are a Pittsburg or a small town in Kansas with a large unemployed or underemployed labor force. You need to put people to work and yet the world has moved on beyond the role those people played (unless of course they are willing to learn Cantonese and emigrate). My observation is that most incentives are ineffective, or effective only for a short period of time. They are also a distraction (although I sympathize greatly with the local officials' plight) from the real, long-term work of re-education and building sustainable local economies.

    Alabama may be winning the competition in pretending that the world still works they way it did in 1960, but a) how is that really preparing Alabamans for the future, and b) who here rates Alabama in even the top 40 state for quality of life?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Are you involved with any agencies that are promoting your community for future industrial development? Is your community aggresive in this pursuit? Does that aggresive attitude include tax deferment? What is your "personal" take on industrial development for your "back yard"?
    Have a look at what Milwaukee is planning to revive the Menomonee Valley into an active industrial district once again. It was once home to tanneries, stockyards/meat packing facilities, a quarry, and several expansive railroad yards and shops for the Milwaukee Road. Then the post-war economy hit, businesses started to leave the Valley, a few have managed to survive, and the place was reduced to little more than a three-mile-long brownfield right smack in between deteriorating neighborhoods to the north and south. This is in the process of changing.

    It's a prime location for new industries, that will have good access to the freeway system (as soon as the links are in place in the near future), as well as the freight railroad lines that run the entire 3-mile length of the Valley.

    The Valley can offer several large parcels of land, which these days most industrial developments need for their large facilities. There are very few places in the city where such large amounts of land are even avaliable anymore (and even then, their locations can put them at a disadvantage compared to the Valley).

    The neighborhhoods immediately north and south, adjacent to the Valley, have the highest concentrations of unemployment in the state. Focusing on industrial jobs will provide family-sustaining wages to those residnets. Minimum-wage restaurant/retail jobs aren't very family-sustaining.

    Milwaukee does not need a retail strip development/pseudo-shopping mall/big-box center built in that location to drain away customers from other retail corridors in the city (Downtown and in other neighborhoods).

    It should also be noted that the kind of industrial development the City wants to target for the Valley is not so much the heavy manufacturing, smoke-belching, noisy, dirty factories of yesteryear. It is envisioned as a mix of lighter industrial/warehouse/tech uses, with some recreational/environmental areas in there as well, and probably some convenience-type retail places for workers. There will be an interesting emphasis on environmental sustainability in the architecture and urban design.

    Environmental remediation was completed a few months ago for portions at the western end of the Valley (where the former railroad shops were located). Once Canal Street (the major east-west street through the Valley) is extended through that area to connect with the freeway near Miller Park, the City will be able to start selling land or taking requests for development. This is supposed to take place next year.

    More detailed information can be found at the Menomonee Valley Partners website: renewthevalley.org

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Good god, I am in this business in a city which offers no incentives, loves to put up roadblocks costing time and money, and where half the population thinks it is a bad thing to be a job center. Can anyone tell me why I came here?

    Most research has shown that incentives make little difference in the decision between regions, but may come into play in a case like Mike Gurnee has, between two neighboring communities. The exceptions to this are the high-profile location decisions. Alabama leads the worst of the states when it comes to reckless incentive packages. I may have once mentioned the $253 million given for the Toyota plant in Montgomery. It would alledgedly create 6500 jobs (2000 at Toyota and another 4500 because other manufacturers would want to locate next door. yeah. sure.) Alabama bragged about the jobs and used them as justification for the tribute they paid out to Toyota - even when the total number of unemployed persons in the three-county metropolitan area was only about 2000 people.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7

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    No one but you can really answer your question. But we both know that incentives per se don't end up making much difference (didn't you just say that?). As for the roadblocks, I get frustrated, and I am trying to eliminate some specific ones here. But having spent a lot of time in places where are there no roadblocks, I have no question where I'd rather live or work. Quality does count. You just have to seek it intellgently. I have no doubt that Boulder is beyond that point in some ways, but it seems to me that part of your challenge is to drag it back. And there aren't many other places where you have the talent pool or the capacity to attract more talent or the potential for ED through local artisans, growers, etc., etc. Soldier On!

  8. #8
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    here's my ametuer take
    it's america working in reverse
    in the decades after the civil war waves of southerns migrated into emerging industrial regions(other than new england) seeking work- otherwise now known as the rust belt and in subsequent concentrations to the automotive tri-states of michigan, ohio and indiana. there are compelling threads of southern descendancy in michigan alone. i would argue the predominant thread of heritage in michigan is southern. the south is america's third world and during hard times people typically will return to their roots hence you have some migration of industry replete with a skilled (and educated) work force to the south.

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