Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tampa Bay Making Headway - Let's Keep it that Way

We have heard some great news in the Tampa Bay area regarding companies opening or relocating to the area. As far back as last year, the Tampa Bay Times picked up on on the economic GROWTH opportunities here, even if they did refer to Joel Kotkin as something called a “futurist”. In reality according to his Wikipedia, Joel Kotkin is a professor of urban development, currently a fellow at Chapman University in Orange, CA and the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank. And Kotkin wrote an Op-Ed earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal summarizing his latest report released by the Manhattan Institute on, "America's Growth Corridors: The Key to National Revival."

What Kotkin research reveals is four broad regions where economic growth will occur.  The Tampa Bay area is included in what he calls the "Third Coast". Despite the recent recession and overall stagnant economy, these charts from Kotkin tell a great story....
Employment growth 2001-2012, Tampa Bay is included in Third Coast
Florida in the Best States for Business

Here at the Eye, we know those who live in the Tampa Bay area want to enhance our economic prosperity by leading in econonmic growth. How do we continue and grow having companies, families and individuals come here?
By building on our relatively low cost of living and taxes, our endless summer, great quality of life, improving our education, providing cost-effective transit, embracing the free markets and “driving” more private sector transportation options.

But today we've got the multitudes of taxpayer funded Central Planners collaborating with elected representatives and some deep pocketed special interests pushing the Obama agenda of regionalism, rail and subsidized transit-oriented development. Those special interests gaming the system and greatly gaining at taxpayer expense is pretty clearly stated by the CATO institute back in 2006 referenced in this recent article regarding the Honolulu $5 billion rail to nowhere boondoggle.
A transit agency that expands its bus fleet gets the support of the transit operators union. But an agency that builds a rail line gets the support of construction companies, construction unions, banks and bond dealers, railcar manufacturers, electric power companies (if the railcars are electric powered), downtown property owners, and other real estate interests. Rail may be a negative-sum game for the region as a whole, but those concentrated interests stand to gain a lot at a relatively small expense to everyone else.
This central planning agenda of pushing and advocating for stack and pack densities and high cost rail is occuring here and throughout the state and country. In addition, this agenda tramples on one of the cornerstones of the American Dream and rights our country was founded on and that is a free market economy and the protection of our property rights. Stanley Kurtz wrote a book last year Spreading the Wealth:  How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities  and recently wrote Regionalism:  Obama's Quiet Anti-Suburban Revolution on National Review Online highlighting:
the July 19 publication of a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation broadening the obligation of recipients of federal aid to “affirmatively further fair housing.”
Kurtz went on to bring up the region wide blueprint San Francisco “Plan Bay Area”:
Essentially, Plan Bay Area attempts to block the development of any new suburbs, forcing all population growth over the next three decades into the existing “urban footprint” of the region.
We only have to look at what is occurring in Florida with this 7 50 plan, aka 7 counties for 50 years to see their regional blueprint for 7 counties in Southeast Florida.  But taxpayers and residents there have woken up and created the American Coalition 4 Property Rights that has already had success in fighting the central planners agenda.  And we know all federal dollars comes with lots of strings attached.

We know that Tampa Bay area is a great place to live, work and play. We continue to hear the great news that more companies, individuals and families are deciding that too as they migrate here.  We all want economic growth but highly subsidized rail and centrally planned economic development projects are quite suspect for achieving the benefits of economic prosperity for all in our county.  
Detroit's building a 3 mile light rail aka streetcar and the city has tons of creative financing tax-increment financing districts known as TIF's with lots of debt and they're bankrupt. 

But we'll keep watching at the Eye because Tampa Bay is making headway so let's keep it that way!


  1. Glad Tampa Bay is doing better. Time will tell how much of the growth is artificial based on the Fed's zero percent interest policy blowing up another housing bubble. Hopefully not all of it.

  2. Concur, but those macro conditions you mention apply to the entire country, arguably globally, and not just Tampa Bay. We'll rise and fall along the rest on those macro conditions, but there are things we can do locally to help our outlook.