Sunday, June 12, 2005

Wealth is good

Perhaps I'm getting my hopes up, but comments attributed to local experts in the Sunday Journal-Gazette story, "GM plans of closing worry area observers," suggest that our community is beginning to understand what economic development is truly about. Eight paragraphs into the story, reporter Arundhati Parmar describes GM's value to our community as being an employer that "brings wealth into a community..."

Wealth. Yes, wealth. I don't mean to sound like Gordon "greed is good" Gekko, but wealth is not a bad word. When you get down to the core, economic development is supposed to be about creating wealth in a community. It's about people making money... money that buys homes, money that buys goods, money that pays taxes, money that supports the arts, money that supports charities and churches and schools. Every economic development initiative in our community should be measured by its potential to create wealth in our community. That yardstick should be used by elected officials, the public and especially the media. Typically, news stories about economic development in our community plaster a bold headline cheerleading a "whole bunch of jobs" coming to the area and include self-congratulatory comments from the officials and politicians who crafted the incentives that lured that "whole bunch of jobs." But "wealth" is a word you rarely read in those same news reports or hear in the soundbites of the politicians touting these economic development conquests.

It's also troubling to learn that out of Indiana's top five employers, three are supermarkets (Wal-Mart, Kroger and Marsh) and one is fast food (McDonalds). Eli Lilly is the only one of the top five that creates true wealth in a community.

By the way, Fort Wayne is slated to get two more Wal-Marts soon.

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