About a year ago, there was a lot of talk about “let’s see this recession as an opportunity!” And, as much of a hackneyed phrase as that is, it does make some sense. When the going gets tough, the best take advantage of it to increase their market share.
When you’re a business, that’s about using cash reserves to purchase undervalued assets. When you’re a government, that can mean using a crisis to change policies that have long been viewed as less friendly to economic development but were always politically untouchable during better times. Some people might say that the recent Seattle head tax repeal was just such an example. But why haven’t I heard anyone talking about taking down one of the Big Washington Economic Development Barriers?
If you work at all in economic development in this state, you hear two complaints over and over again:
1) No TIF: Tax Increment Financing is everyone’s favorite “build now, pay later” device.
2) No Lending of Credit: Lots of other states attract new businesses the old fashion way – giving them huge bags of cash.
I know that these are both things that are currently “unconstitutional” and that voters have turned down changes to in the past, but the whole point is that these are uncommon times. When I-1033 goes down in over half the state’s counties, you might get the sense that people are seeing that government can be part of the solution, not just the problem. When used right, these are tools that help create jobs, and that’s what we need more than anything else right now.
So, who’s out there that’s going to take up the flag and lead us into battle?