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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Greeley's Mom and Pops Singing Uranium Coffee Blues?

As I have been digging in further to the uranium coffee blues I have come up with more questions than answers. I am hoping someone reading may be able to help me clarify a couple of things about the direction Greeley City government has been taking over the past couple of decades. I see the nice fluff pieces on rewards and the spin city names like "Community Garden" but I don't see any real substance. The Police Department did a survey? Really? How comfortable was that for everyone answering the questions? Quality of life certainly includes security but security is built in a town on a specific foundation of interactions each town cultivates. My opinion at least.

My first interest is in the apparent focus on big industry attraction. This area is resourced based and obviously that is an advantage to use. However these industries create a substantial portion of low wage semi-skilled jobs. Hence when times get really rough they pick up and go where wages are more competitive (meaning lower). So if the town is pulling in lower wage jobs it is going to have to do something to create affordable housing and shopping for those employees. I am not sure allowing a barrio to develop is considered good community planning. Granted there is a place in every economy for resource based industry. But these corporations also create externalities which, in long run, the community public will pick up the price tag on. Water usage, regional pollution, and the ever downward spiral to lower labor wages to compete internationally, as other industrial economies emerge, is omnipresent. All in exchange for that tax base hit to the community coffers to keep those parks and recreation desires sated and the public reelecting the power base.

There is also a tacit political change the often occurs as the industry leaders manipulate local politicians and business leaders to create the best environment for their own needs. After all that is their job. Especially if the strategic operational planning arm comes from a central office somewhere out of the area.

I'll continue my, what is turning into a semi-rant, argument that semi-skilled workers needs are not generally a large concern in the industrial economy and their captains are not seeking a superior quality of life for the deck swabbers when they make demands on local politics. They need basics. That's it.

The Captains need a labor supply that doesn't complain too much. Semi-skilled labor can turn over more rapidly then high skilled labor and the Captains can live with that ratio. On the other hand higher skilled labor captains need a bit more since they tend to have more income to expend and more educational background. The educational and culture amenities to keep their skilled workers happy become a demand before locating and after locating.

So if my broad assumptions are sound so far somewhere in all this there needs to be a blend for a communities well-being. The other segments which play a big role in this blended pie are the persons employed directly by local government and state government. Service workers. Teachers, municipal works employees, etc. for example. Then, at the bottom of the pie, come the local business owners. The Mom and Pops as they are commonly known.

It is pretty obvious that Greeley is pursuing the industrial base fairly heavy. I would imagine there are all kinds of deals being cut, possibly through their economic development arm--Upstate Colorado Economic Development Coporation (which, under this site, I can't figure out if it is a private corporation connected through the University or the University--which could be a quasi-government agency. The website has the .org extension). And if you read the Greeley City Council site most of the urban redevelopment appears directed to housing and building renovation. The Greeley Chamber link for small businesses is very vague on local lending sources. They point to other sources.

In general, so far, my synopsis is that there are grants available to existing large business coming in. The small business people, in lieu of a direct city source, appear to be pointed towards the SBA and in general given business education options. The SBA is not a bad source but the interest isn't local. And, contrary to opinion, they don't help just anyone.

So my questions at the moment are: Is the decision making business investment strategies being directed through a private corporation within the University? If so, how does that special interest, or academic interest, in personal wealth accumulation conflict with the public interest in building a long term sustainable community for everyone? Are all the local generated business grant revenues being used to develop local ownership of small business or is it being used primarily as a resource to further industrialize the area? Why isn't there a specific arm being used to renovate small business development in the declining city areas? Does the council believe that their "Community Gardening" tool is a fair method of distributing support to Mom and Pops when there isn't any serious lending mechanism? Why did this council receive a planning award? For what?

I know, I know, I am all about questions. I need to do more research. However if the Obama administration is going to put lending incentives out for small businesses plus there exists a lot of community people who used to rely on one of these industries to provide them with forty grand a year and it has sent that family income packing--it makes sense to me to teach the population that controlling their own financial future is an option. A good option for the long term well-being of this town. Continued reliance on growing a tax base of industry is only half the picture. Healthy families and small businesses need to be taken into the equation as well. Diversity is a good thing.

On the other hand, if the Greeley City Council has turned over development, except in name, to a broad area-serving economic development arm then maybe it is the intention of that arm (without malicious intent) to put the most egregious industries into Greeley and build higher end sectors in the other communities surrounding. Specializing, by directing funding and urban renewal programs, so that Greeley appeals to these resource based industries. Again, another question.

CommunityDevelopment - Urban Renewal
The Greeley Urban Renewal Authority's purpose is to implement urban redevelopment plans in which acquisition, clearance, rehabilitation, conservation, development, redevelopment or a combination thereof is necessary in the interest of public health, safety, morals or welfare of the residents of the City of Greeley.
Urban Renewal Authority services in the City of Greeley include:

* Repair and rehabilitate homes of residents with lower incomes.
* The sale of moved & rehabilitated homes to residents with lower income when such homes are available.
* Buy and sell property for new development and some public purposes.
* Provide financial assistance to various agencies whose purpose is to help lower income persons.
* Provide partial funding in cooperation with the City of Greeley for some public efforts and improvements.
* Special projects involving land redevelopment.
* Greeley Rental Housing Guide
* Multi-Family Housing Vacancy Survey 2009
* Annual Action Plan
* Annual Community Assessment Summary
* Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice Report
* 2005 Consolidated Plan 5-year

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