We need to create a home-grown stimulus plan

Cities, counties and states through the nation are creating their own economic stimulus plans to cope with the recession.

We could do this too: use more local contractors for ongoing construction projects; offer gift cards to encourage shopping in town; and reduce rent to help out local businesses. Some of this is happening, but it needs to happen faster.

As The Wall Street Journal reports: “Some are taking the traditional route of cutting corporate taxes. Others are trying all sorts of ideas: Paying residents to shop in local stores; giving real-estate brokers bonuses for bringing tenants to empty strip malls; reducing fees on new development; even critiquing local restaurants and giving owners feedback on how best to bring in customers.”

In Carrollton near Dallas, the council has dipped into a budget surplus to create up to 250 temporary jobs paying $8 to $10 an hour, the Journal reports. “Hiring will swing into gear this week for shifts planting trees, painting fire hydrants and sprucing up Little League fields,” the paper said.

We can’t afford this here, but we could do other things: For example:

•Construction projects, such as the ongoing one at Sierra College, could make a more concerted effort to use local contractors. I hear this is being considered!

•Businesses could get together to offer gift cards for residents who spend a certain amount of dollars here instead of “down the hill.”

•More landlords could offer reduced rent to businesses, at least for a while. This has been happening in downtown Nevada City and some commercial deals, but it could expand.

All told, it will require leadership in business and government to get “out of the box” and come up with some cool ideas. Are we up to it?

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

2 thoughts on “We need to create a home-grown stimulus plan”

  1. Hey Jeff,

    We are definitely making a concerted effort to use local contractors. We’ve inserted a preference for Nevada County-based contractors in the request for qualifications, and we’re going to work hand-in-hand with NCCA to try and help qualify any that apply. The state regulations are pretty onerous, but we’re going to try hard!

    Best,

    Aaron
    ak@aaronklein.com

  2. Jeff, the Sierra College project will be a very powerful local stimulus if it is built by local contractors. The total cost is estimated to be nearly $10 million, many times more than we will see from any federal stimulus. That money, circulating through our local economy, would have a tremendous effect, beginning this summer. Aaron Klein has shown great leadership by helping Sierra College understand the importance of giving local contractors a chance to bid this work. This is, after all, our money, that we voted to tax ourselves to expand our Sierra College campus. It would be a shame to send our money to Sacramento or Los Angeles.

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