Private sector should do economic development

newsroom@islandpacket.comMarch 30, 2014 

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For at least the third or fourth time in the last 10 years, local government is trying to drive economic development by committee. Now (surprise) the latest incarnation says that it can recruit new business if we taxpayers just give it more money -- as seen with the plan to lure a business to Buckwalter Place.

Since the previous attempts have basically faded away after achieving minimal results, investing more in this effort seems to meet Einstein's definition.

The most beneficial role for local government is providing an environment that encourages and directly supports economic development. This includes assuring that regulations and regulatory processes (zoning, permitting, business licensing that is more than just a revenue stream) are development-friendly, and that direct assistance, infrastructure capabilities, workforce and other needed resources are available for strong economic development. There is still much that can be done in this area.

Economic development itself is best left to those in the business of business. That includes incubators like the Don Ryan center, developers, business organizations, and chambers of commerce that truly support economic growth, not merely increase tourism, bolstered by support from local government.

It may be time to end the insanity, stop shoveling money down the proverbial rat hole and try a different approach.

Dean Roberts

Hilton Head Island

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