What government can do

Empowering the private sector

When I was a Humphrey Public Policy Fellow, I worked with a group of fellow Fellows to develop a game, or at least a decision-making strategy, for when government should undertake programs and when the private sector would be more effective.  We called it GIGO for “Get in, get out” (of government).   Since then, I’ve considered the question “is this something government should do?” quite frequently, especially now that Northfield is trying to (1) cut its expenses in advance of the loss of LGA, (2) maintain important services and programs, and (3) untangle our economic development strategy.

The narrow “create jobs and increase tax base” model of economic development thinking is one of those areas where I have some serious reservations about what government can do except make the environment as fertile as possible for the private sector to do the creating and increasing without direct government subsidy.   Here’s what ‘job creators’ really need from government according to Scott Burns, founder and CEO of GovDelivery writing at MinnPost.

One thought on “What government can do

  1. Anyone, who reads anything ‘modern’ about economic development for today knows that everything Scott Burns says in this article is true… the competition for today’s businesses, especially the ones NF has ‘targeted’, is based on the quality of life issues they can offer employees, as well as the level of educated employees in the talent pool.

    You, and SOME of the other councilors and decision makers know this to be true, say it all the time, some say it but vote otherwise, and then there are others who still seem to believe in the old fashioned idea of industry.

    HKgi, the consulting firm for the BZPK Master plan, repeatedly said that NF could not compete on an old fashioned model of light industrial development; we paid 250K for their advice… we should be listening.

    Your previous post on the Depot project is a component of the new parameters of attracting business; but we hear disclaimers from council people including the Mayor, EDA members, and other property owners in the area.

    How will this accepted new reality of how to attract business become a reality here in NF’s procedure?

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