Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Cotuit

Smart policies for economic gain

Recommended Posts

Cotuit    0

Smart policies mean economic gain for all

BY DAVID A. SEGAL and Journal Staff Writer MIGUEL C. LUNA | February 21, 2005

It's not very controversial to say that Providence needs increased economic development. As members of the City Council, it's our job to set policies that will foster new economic activity.

But as we work together to create new economic opportunities in Providence, we are faced with a choice as to what sort of development we should pursue: Should we beg and plead for whatever scraps are dangled before us, broken and jaded by decades of disinterest in our city? Or should we strategically attract and foster projects that will have a deep and positive impact on our neighborhoods?

Together we can beautify Providence, plant trees, pave roads, preserve historic buildings, and build new skyscrapers; foster commerce and theater and arts, attract tourists, and increase national and international renown.

Together we also can work to ensure that families do not need to leave Providence because of rising property taxes or rents, and that new developments we recruit bring family wage jobs for Providence residents and support locally owned businesses. We can create sustainable opportunities for Providence's working families and minority-owned businesses, while ensuring that our great city is a welcoming environment for new development.

At present, through hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks, Providence is pursuing development without mandating concrete returns on the investment of our public money. This sort of development has an unintended downside: Rather than creating more opportunities for the under-served and under-employed people who live in Providence, it can out-price and displace them.

These policies date back to the Cianci administration and are driven by a fear that if we reclaim our city for every resident, developers will not come. Other cities and towns are learning that such fears are unfounded: A comprehensive study by Good Jobs First, a national research and policy organization devoted to this issue, found that "the vast majority of development officials interviewed agree that job quality standards do not adversely affect business climates."

Smart policies that create economic opportunity for everyone -- including Providence's poorest residents and middle class -- have an increased benefit. The creation of low-wage, no-benefit jobs places increased burdens on our city and state, through higher social service, policing and education costs. The creation of family wage jobs with health insurance and training ensures that we are rebuilding Providence for everyone.

We are faced with a choice. We can welcome development that can have a negative long-term impact on many residents of our city, or we can reject this cycle by encouraging sustainable and vibrant economic development that creates a meeting of private development and community benefit, that strengthens our neighborhoods by improving the lives of those who live in them. We can build beautiful buildings where residents can also work good jobs and afford to live.

There are several policies up for consideration before the city that would help us do just that.

We urge our colleagues in city government to help us:

Implement the First Source Hiring Ordinance, which was passed in 1985 but has never been enforced. First Source requires that projects financed by the city, or receiving tax breaks, hire Providence residents. If implemented in the spirit and letter of the ordinance, residents will gain access to hundreds or thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.

Address our affordable housing crisis by amending the zoning ordinance. An inclusionary zoning ordinance would require all new large developments to include affordable housing. In return, the city would allow slightly higher or denser development to offset costs to developers.

Institute a responsible contracting ordinance, requiring that big construction projects that get public money use contractors that pay fair wages, provide health insurance, and have apprenticeship programs.

This would ensure that developments in Providence produce good jobs -- good local jobs, if we abide by the First Source Ordinance.

These policies would yield immediate benefits for the people of Providence at almost no cost to the city's coffers. Boston and other big cities with hot development markets have put laws like these in place.

If we do, too, new projects will still mean higher property values and localized increased taxes, but they will also yield good jobs and affordable housing that will improve the lives of every Providence resident and help make our city the economically vibrant and sustainable community it could be.

David A. Segal represents Ward 1. Miguel C. Luna represents Ward 9.

From The Providence Journal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Ah, Segal ... putting that Columbia education to good use. Talking a lot, without saying much. Unfortunately, the few policies he advocates appear to have dubious merit, at best.

First source sounds like a terrible idea, even on the surface. Not many companies want to face restrictions on who they can hire. Especially in a city with a huge under-educated foriegn born population (not like these people would ever be the ones hired even if companies relocate ... so how is Segal helping, again?). Why are people so shocked about the city needing incentives to attract corporations, when they seem hell-bent on making it otherwise as unpleasant for business as possible?

The only possible way this affordable housing rule would be good, is if the council uses it as a blunt instrument to beat down NIMBY opposition to highrise projects. However this is clearly not the case as Segal is only the minority leader (the freaking Green party for God sakes) and can't block NIMBYs himself. The machine Democrats on council will be more than happy to bend over for the NIMBYs at the expense of Providence's future. Couple that with Segal's previous comments opposing condos near India Point, as well as his language of "slightly increased density" and I think the picture comes into focus. They will hit developers with one more piece of red tape, just so their populist rhetoric will garner a few more votes in their wards.

The contracting thing sounds fine on the surface. But by the by ... what happens if all these "responsible" rules dramatically increase the cost of all public projects, thus further bankrupting the state/city or limiting future projects? I mean, crap, I guess it's worth it if the construction workers have the cash to buy an extra carton of cigarettes and the health insurance to take care of their mess.

Can you tell I don't like his ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cotuit    0

The only possible way this affordable housing rule would be good, is if the council uses it as a blunt instrument to beat down NIMBY opposition to highrise projects.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I believe that's the mayor's plan. Right now developers go through the zoning process and get endless waivers and the community gets nothing.

Can you tell I don't like his ideas?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Soren    0

Here's an idea: a city employer tax credit based on the number of spanish/portugese speakers who use either language as part of their job.

My thinking is that as employers look to international markets they might be incented to use the considerbale local bilingual talent to go after foreign markets in latin/south america and europe. Combine this with a business development advisory group on how to effectively use local resources to market to and support Spanish/Portugese speaking markets.

Given that Providence is something like 35% hispanic, this is an incredible potential resource for RI businesses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lova    0

Forgive me the lack of proper quotes here. I dont know how to use your system well.

Soren said:

"My thinking is that as employers look to international markets they might be incented to use the considerbale local bilingual talent to go after foreign markets in latin/south america and europe."

I'm sure South America needs all the goods manufactured in RI. Maybe the Mosquito Magnet?

Segal:

"Institute a responsible contracting ordinance, requiring that big construction projects that get public money use contractors that pay fair wages, provide health insurance, and have apprenticeship programs."

This is the best way to slow investment through increased project cost and pointless beaurocracy. I'm familiar with HUD financed construction. It's expensive and a compliance nightmare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lova    0

Lots of good manufaturing stats here:

http://www.nemw.org/data.htm#profiles

The best way to increase economic activity is to reward it. This means lower the cost and ease the friction. RI has high taxes, low return on investment for public education, and an incestous political culture.

RI should be the Switzerland of America, but its closer to a banana republic. We have everything in a 25-50 mile nut shell: Ocean, beaches, a city, villages, strong banking and insurance industries, diverse manufacturing, and is central to Boston and NY. Once upon a time, RI was the bedrock of libertarian, can-do culture. This society withered for 100 years, and is only now, reluctantly, sprouting again.

The linch pin is in the State House. Our House and Senate must be brought to heel. People talk about Cianci stifling growth in Prov, but his was not a unique political culture: its rampant on the hill. Imagine if all the petty Buddies in the State House were forced to relinquish control. We'd be free to get things done cheaper, faster, better. Make no mistake: they are choking RI.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whynotme    0

Make no mistake: they are choking RI.

I just finished reading Providence: Renaissance City, wherein the authors suggest that government actors, both elected and adminstrative, were catalysts, not stranglers, of local development. By suggesting that the mini Buddies at the State House should "relinquish control", what do you mean? Surely, you don't mean that they should ignore their duty to represent their constituents. You have to recognize that Providence receives the bulk of state funding in RI, and suburban representatives should be pressed to change those circumstances. At some point Providence must stand on its own feet fiscally. The question is when and how. As long as the renaissance is good for RI at large, then sustainable growth in Providence should be encouraged. However, the Big Dig is good for Boston, but is also an enormous debocle for Massachusetts. Consider Fall River, which was promised a commuter rail connection after the Big Dig, only to be rebuffed when that lengthy project came to completion. This type of anxiety must exist in the RI State House. The hope is that by fixing Providence's problems the state will eventually have a strong economic center and more public funds will be available for other communities. Its been 25 years of renaissance, and I'm sure your state representatives want to know when this bird will fly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jenkins    0

Surely, you don't mean that they should ignore their duty to represent their constituents.

The trouble is, these "mini-buddies" have represented their constituents by collectively overseeing a state that is drowning in debt, has a crumbling infrastructure, the worst schools in New England, one of the worst business climates in the country, and some of the highest taxes in the nation. If that is "representing" your constituents, it makes me wonder just who those constituents are...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cotuit    0

You have to recognize that Providence receives the bulk of state funding in RI, and suburban representatives should be pressed to change those circumstances. At some point Providence must stand on its own feet fiscally.

The state is a collective, Providence is it's economic engine. Providence should be recieving the bulk of the state's money. The jobs in Providence make the property taxes in the suburbs possible. Providence needs to better it's economic house, but the state budget should not be split into thirty-ninths with Providence getting a slice proportional to New Shoreham.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeR    0

The trouble is, these "mini-buddies" have represented their constituents by collectively overseeing a state that is drowning in debt, has a crumbling infrastructure, the worst schools in New England, one of the worst business climates in the country, and some of the highest taxes in the nation. If that is "representing" your constituents, it makes me wonder just who those constituents are...

Here Here :thumbsup: !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jencoleslaw    0

The state is a collective, Providence is it's economic engine. Providence should be recieving the bulk of the state's money. The jobs in Providence make the property taxes in the suburbs possible. Providence needs to better it's economic house, but the state budget should not be split into thirty-ninths with Providence getting a slice proportional to New Shoreham.

indeed. and might i add that providence THEN has to ensure that it is ONE providence, not 15 little feifdoms. I think that would help with the NIMBY problem as well, if everyone in providence realised that they live in PROVIDENCE not just their little neighborhood with no connection to the rest of the city.

"united we stand, divided we fall."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.