Municipalities should bolster economic efforts

Thursday , July 11, 2013 - 7:19 PM

Steve Curtis

“I want to be in control of the situation, and if I can’t, then no one is going to be allowed to be happy about the outcome.”— Cliché

Local debate rightfully tests government’s design of community building.

This discussion often includes the murkiness of disingenuous statements, for example, that city officials are passive to the impulses and quirks of organized groups who oppose the decisions of those elected to represent the community.

Misinformation is then disseminated to the point of being deceitful.

How a city plans itself physically has a major impact on how it grows economically.

As municipal corporations with their own governmental diplomacy, cities are built upon many different components, including social networks and relationships, economic and market conditions, physical buildings and neighborhood sustainability.

The direct impact that local governments have on community building include transportation and infrastructure, planning and zoning issues, economic development policy, redevelopment initiatives and neighborhood revitalization. Economic development decisions (good or bad) will have the strongest influence on the ultimate quality of life in a community.

To develop economic health and stability, the most important issue facing any city is a vital commitment in expanding and strengthening the job base. Yet, a matter such as job base strengthening relies on the available means to address any impasse. The key is to “operate within means,” while being responsible and proactive. Adding a strong commercial base lifts the tax burden off the backs of the people, and ultimately all citizens triumph.

What is frequently misunderstood is the appropriate role of government in not supplanting private real estate professionals but, rather, bolstering and facilitating their efforts.

Success and prosperity always precipitate growth, a double-edged certainty that needs to be managed responsibly and planned ingeniously. Proactive preparation by government officials is crucial to the future well-being of those they represent and to the conscientious use of the land. Flexibility in city master planning needs to be followed and open for amendment when wise or necessary. Land rights should be recognized and protected as described in our nation’s Constitution.

As long as eyes are kept on a goal to sustain a pursued quality of life; we will be able to tackle whatever the future holds.

In viewing economic development, economic diversity should be the goal of every community. Cities that become too leveraged, for instance, in single-family housing are economically unsustainable.

The evidence is mounting that geographic openness and cultural variety are not by-products, but key drivers of economical progress. Along with proximity they operate next to technological innovation and human capital as the engines of economic prosperity.

A well rounded society is the essential cog to creating a turning wheel of civic success; balanced components prevent it from becoming wobbly.

The fundamental premise of our country’s founding fathers was to balance individual property rights, the rights of other property owners and the authority of government to regulate.

It’s time for skeptics of economic diversity to get over their hang-ups.

Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at scurtis@laytoncity.org.

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