The Kingston Times reports this week that some people are lamenting how cuts to the Empire Zone program will be bad for business, but I say trim the fat away.
The Empire Zone program is a bloated beast that needs to be deflated. It is often misused by elected officials, and does not result in the type of economic development that suits life in this century.
A better way to spend dollars and marketing energy is to engage in “micro-managed economic development.” It’s simple. Here are the steps:
1. Empty your mind of old habits and ways of doing things. Large scale development projects are a thing of the past.
2. Create an inventory of vacant lots, storefronts and commercial properties in your city or town.
3. Encourage redevelopment of these existing properties with a thoughtful, focused marketing campaign to specific business segments that residents would like to see in their neighborhood.
4. As an incentive, offer these small businesses six-month tax breaks for relocating. Award the tax break after two consecutive years of occupancy.
5. Celebrate the success of filling these vacant storefronts with thriving businesses that make voters happy while swelling the tax base, long term, by encouraging other municipalities to follow your example.
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz