Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Invisible Hand Flips the Bird
Today's Fayetteville Free Weekly has an article by Wayne Bell on the short half-life of local restaurants. "Some of my favorite Fayetteville spots have closed: Sassafras, Chloe, La Maison, Blu, Stir and a variety of other popular places. Even some of the national chain stores on Target row have just tanked —O’Charley’s, Fuddruckers, Smokey Bones, what gives?"
Bell goes on to raise other questions about the city's economic environment, but admits he does not have the answers. "I am not an expert by any means. I don’t sit on city planning boards. Although I like the people at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, we don’t do lunch. ... I am simply the biggest fan of Fayetteville in the city. It hurts me to see Fayetteville slipping! I can’t even really suggest ways to fix this problem. My guess would be for everyone to simply support their favorite Fayetteville businesses before they say bye-bye. However, I’m sure there is a more technical solution."
Even the local economic development experts don't have the answers or a solution. Look at Ray Boudreaux's series of failures in keeping a restaurant in business down at the city's premiere business property under his direction, the economic Mecca that boasts a publicly funded corporate jetport and a taxpayer subsidized military museum claiming to draw thousands of visitors. Wilma Walker opened a restaurant in the airport terminal last April serving home-style meals such as catfish, pork chops and fried chicken. It is now closing, joining Wally's Smokeshack and Catering, The Runway Grill, and Plane Good Food as the fourth restaurant to give up on that location in only six years.
Economic Director Boudreaux and Jeff Koenig's Economic Development Council haven't been able to do anything or even offer an economic development plan for the city. Bill Ramsey and the Cowbirds will try to blame it on the sign ordinance, impact fees, the planning commission, or almost anything else except their own lack of ideas. Mayor Dan Coody and Phil Stafford, the UA Walton College guy on the FEDC, don't know either, but they think spending $150,000 on an outside consultant is the answer.
Should we care? Should we praise the market forces of capitalism that prune the inefficient? Should city government be responsible for making sure private businesses make money? Is this the true consequence of George Bush's grand economic plan of tax cuts for the rich? What are your thoughts?