To the editor:
Dolph Simons Jr. suggests that recognition of Lawrence's economic woes is long overdue (Saturday Column, Jan. 19). He is correct, but his advocacy for growth fails to distinguish between smart economic development strategies and blind business advocacy.
Many city leaders and the Chamber of Commerce advocate for giving away tax breaks to attract businesses. Experience both here and around the nation shows that these tax breaks are unnecessary and wasteful. Equally, they call for more industrial sites when we cannot fill the ones that exist. What attracts firms is an ample supply of well educated and affordably priced labor, available sites serviced with affordably priced utilities, and - in some cases - bond financing.
We need to be open to firms that make a contribution to the community, not firms that take tax breaks and then fail to produce the promised jobs. We need to be open to firms that offer jobs that are needed, not dead-end, low-pay jobs that are already in surplus.
We do not need to continue failed policies that give away wasteful tax breaks to firms that will locate here without the subsidy. We do not need to subsidize firms who do not fulfill their promises in terms of investment, jobs, and wages. We do not need to build more industrial parks.
Citizens will always object to failed policies and wasteful practices. Until the city leaders stop repeating failed practices from the 1970s and adopt the best economic development practices of today, the city will continue to languish.