Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back to the Future

Back to the future

For me, its time to get back to the future. Headlines  lately extol the demise of a dream most adults harbor within their hearts, that of, their children will be better off than they were at a similar age.

What's the new dynamic? 
First, questions that should be answered :

(1) Will home ownership be a reality for most of today's young during their mid-life years ?
(2) Will industry and businesses be willing to invest in local communities with more than just the cost of plant and equipment ? 
(3) Will local communities be aggressive in designing new paradigms for business investment incentives ?
(4) Will the public be willing to give industry and municipal subdivisions credit and, also, time for trying to change the way business is done between them ?

Home ownership, once thought the gold standard of a successful life, has been tarnished in the past few years. Maybe, by turning back, the future need not be wedded to home ownership if renting and leasing took on a positive appearance.

Around the turn of the Twentieth Century the business of industry realized housing of employees to be so important they built houses for them thus insuring always having workers readily available. Then industrialists chose to invest capitol in more than factories and equipment, but not necessarily in the community per say. 

If industry today saw an incentive for investing in housing, well done housing which would appreciate over time and give a positive financial return, I believe, they could be enticed to consider it. These same businessmen would see an advantage in influencing the makeup of the community, sort of, like Disney did, but on a much smaller scale.

The key to this new dynamic rests in governmental acceptance in creating public/private partnerships. The State formulated Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZ's) which granted tax abatements for private   developers who would make investments in job producing establishments within the newly formed district. 

Now if housing were also part of the overall scheme, 
investors would think more long term and build accordingly. I'm afraid many of today's builders are quite short term in their thinking : build it quickly, cheaply, and get it sold. Do you ever wonder what modern housing built in the last few years will look like in thirty years ? I do and shutter.

The greatest obstacle to be overcome, which will impede this shift to a new paradigm, will be the publics' resistance to accept change. The downward demise of home ownership, the erosion of community, the flight of industry with their jobs, and the attitude of a helpless/hopeless public cries for a change. 

When the fabric of our present life style becomes tattered it needs to be fixed, but, how is always the question. I submit the forgoing as a means for change. Is it a cure all? Most likely not, though in concept, it prods government and business to work together to solve some of today's problems. It does so using the financial muscle of private enterprise to maximize a return on its investment with minimal concessions from public entities.

Respectfully, Ronald C. Downie

No comments:

Post a Comment