Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hey, pro-Sheila commenters. What is her plan to support small business?

We have seen lots of comments from Sheila's supporters here about how pro-small business Sheila is. Great, she is pro-small business. What does that mean? Will she give checks to small business people? Demand the city buy everything from small businesses that are in town? You can't tell me that handing out a "business of the month award" is a plan, there are Dilbert cartoons about programs like that.

So, what is her plan? At the moment, it looks like a campaign promise that will be very hard to keep. It is pretty lame to say you are pro-business and not walk the talk.

Every other time I have asked this in the comments, the Sheila supporters have ducked for cover. Now it is out here in the main thread. What have you got?


Anonymous said...

This is a straw man argument. Saying you are pro-small business (or pro-environment for that matter) means that your opponent can only agree with you otherwise he or she faces being labled a corporate lacky. So it's a no lose situation for the party that lays claims it first.

Is anyone running for mayor not pro-small business or pro-environment? No. So being first to such a claim is merely a political tactic. It works because it makes the voters feel good to nod in agreement. Unfortunatelys, most people don't stop to ask, "What does that really mean?".

Anonymous said...

Crickets, crickets...


Crickets, crickets...

Neutral Participant said...

I am not sure what her plans might be to specifically support "small", locally-owned businesses, however, I can make one suggestion. Major players and large corporations should have to pay their requisite amount of local taxes. No one should get special treatment such as tax waivers or deferrals. This would at least put all competitors on a more level playing field.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I think I have the same problem, I can't figure out one thing she is proposing beyond a Dilbert award for businesses.

As far as tax breaks and major players, that simply isn't the way the world works. Often what they give you, is worth what you give up. There is a book about how to do economic development in a small town. They list Marion, IL as a model city. Marion gives away tax breaks like candy and for them it works. The book is Boomtown USA by Schultz

It is interesting that Brad has read the economic development literature and Sheila hasn't.

The problem with saying that you will never give up a tax break is that you are dooming yourself to failure. Carbondale really needs a company that makes something (anything) and exports it beyond the boarders of Southern Illinois. It would also be helpful if that company paid reasonable wages and benefits, otherwise they are just another fast food place really. There are two ways to get that kind of company, you give away tax breaks to attract them or you develop a new business from local talent.

Carbondale has three big problems attracting a Toyota plant (or something of that scale) we have a bad elementary school system, we have a bad worker base (our adults have moved away, so there is no senior talent. College students are poor workers compared to farm boys) and we don't have much tax breaks to give (we are poor). As Brad has written in this campaign documents, we are only going to attract small to mid-sized business. The large ones are out of our league.

We could develop local businesses from local talent. I moved here to help do just that. The problem is that we don't have much senior talent, because it has all moved away. If you hire someone, they leave when their girl friend goes because there is no job for her in town. There is no culture of entrepreneurism here, so there are no management teams or idea of how to form one. A few companies have emerged in town, but they mostly pray on the underemployed students for cheap labor.

Let's imagine that the business pays no property taxes for the first 5 years, that doesn't cost the city anything because the city doesn't have a property tax right now. But even if you did lose tax revenue, there is an economic development statistic that says that every new job creates 4 (or 5) more from the new money that is dropped into the local economy. The new jobs will pay taxes, so you have a new win.

Granted you shouldn't give away tax breaks to 100% of the new businesses, but there are good example over the last few years in Carbondale where a tax break has really helped build other business around the new business.

It is a nice thought that there might be a level playing field out there, but I have never found one. It is an optimistic thing that business people have no interest in. We want to work hard enough to have the unequal field in our favor. :)