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Accountability in Economic Development


The Bush Administration is at it again, this time proposing to radically increase logging in the Sierras. (Always propose far mor than remotely conscionable, then the public will be more pliable to accept the merely excessive.) As much as the environmental consequences of this plan, what bugs me is the obscene hand-outs to businesses.

We don't charge nearly the true value of the timber (or oil, or mineral ore, etc.), and then we further subsidize the business by constructing roads for it, building transportation facilities, or otherwise spending citizen dollars to reduce their costs and pad their profits. For it, we get the denuded hillsides that erode into our streams, the strip mined countryside leaching toxins, and contaminated air to breathe.

I am a stickler for accountability in economic development. Grants should be almost non-existent. Incentives should be awarded with claw-back provisions. If a government is offering something to a company to get it to do something beneficial to the community, then it should expect the company to do it or pay a penalty. That's the way I have always played the game.

So here's the question. At your own local level, what is your community doing to promote economic development? Are they accountable?


Cyburbian Emeritus
*Continuing the rant*

We're sooo behind the 8 Ball and playing catch-up. Our tax base is predominantly residential. If we added $200 million in commercial / industrial tax base, we'd still be dead last in commercial / industrial equalized value our County.

In 1998 a referendum for a business park failed. A 1999 community survey showed no support for an economic development office in the city. Since then, taxes have soared.
We have a $500,000 revolving lkoan fund that is stting idle because there is no local organization to adminster it (I have my certs but its not in my job description).

We're finally doing a economic development strategic plan. The writing is on the wall for a business park, but we don't have the organizational structure to promote / recruit / retain. Thats going to have to change.

Then maybe we can talk promotions and accountability....


The link below describes the accountability measures include in the major incentive program available here...

It looks pretty good on paper but the prime benficiary in this county has gone out of business. The semiconductor company recruited to repopen the fab signed a similar agreement. Unfortunately they just announced a delay in their launch.

There is a lot of dialouge both at the state and local levels about business climate and focusing on job creation. It will be interesting to see how much does/doesn't go out the window in terms of acocuntability given our current unemployment rate.


This is one of my pet peeves and builds on my idea of "social capital". those with the capital should act in a manner that is socially acceptable and responsible.

Here, this idea is completely ignored. All Council's and the province want are jobs and assessment at any cost.

here are a few examples of failures and no accountability:

1) Call Centres, lets give these multi national companies money to come to our province and setup. The condition is that they must provide x number of jobs of x number of years. if they do they don't have to pay back the money. Well, after the years are up, unless they are given more money they close up shop. OR they take the money and leave and don't come back and are difficult to chase down.

2) Provincial Department in charge of business development gives loans and money to businesses with oput regard for zoning or other regulations. We have a partially built cottage grouping that dug out a good piece of a rare dune formation, funded by the province as 2 other provincial agencies take them to court to stop work.

3) Waste paper compost operation. 1 million dollars of taxpayers money to compost waste paper tailings from mills was given to a private company. The site was not zoned properly, on a road that had to be upgraded to even be passable, at the top of a model watershed. 8 years later we have a dump. No composting, just egg carton paper stacked 40 feet tall by 200 feet long. This project was to create 40 jobs and be worth 2 million a year in tax revenues.


Forgot one thing, a court found that the property owner was breaking the law, and ordered the paper piles removed (both court of queen's bench and appeals court). The province never psuhed for the court order to be enforced.
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