Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Economic Development Charade

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, and more than 1,300 vendors and suppliers have opened offices in Northwest Arkansas to better do commerce with the giant. Tomorrow, yet another company will announce that it wants a local presence and a seat at the table. It makes good business sense, and that's why they're coming.

CaseStack, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, plans to open an office in Fayetteville sometime in the future. The company
provides logistics outsourcing services to mid-sized companies that sell products to retailers, distributors and other manufacturers. CaseStack has been a good corporate citizen within the supply chain management industry, but its local economic impact will not be like landing a major high wage manufacturing employer. There is no word yet how many new jobs will be created or how many local residents might be hired for those jobs. Neither has there been any mention of any expected capital investment that would add to the local tax base.

This uncertainty will not restrain the local boosterism brigade from claiming that this is a major economic development event nor prevent them from claiming credit for making it happen. We should welcome CEO Dan Sanker and CaseStack to Fayetteville. We should also be somewhat embarrassed when Steve Rust or Jeff Koenig of the FEDC and Bill Ramsey of the Chamber of Commerce strut and boast as if they have done an outstanding job of recruiting new industry, creating high wage jobs, doing something to increase the property tax base that supports our schools and city services, or anything except hype and publicity. It's only entertainment and self-promotion, but they're very good at that.

No comments:

Post a Comment