Economic development fueled by private, not public, sector

I sighed when I read George Boardman’s ignorant weekly column about economic development in this morning’s local newspaper.

He thinks the Rood Center, and ultimately our county supervisors, are responsible for our county’s economic development, not the private sector. If only they were “leaders,” he sighs.

I guess when you’re retired, drawing or near to drawing Social Security and/or depending on Medicare, and also not very entrepreneurial and never were, you can get an exaggerated view of government’s role in making the world go round.

To be sure, government can be a catalyst when it comes to economic development — and it should.

But economic development is fueled by the private sector. In our county, we have a lopsided demographic of retirees to working professionals and entrepreneurs. Our population is declining and aging.

We also don’t have enough private capital to fund economic development in our county. It’s one reason why we tried to launch a community bank — Citizens.

We have real systemic problems in our county that have nothing to do with the Rood Center or the supervisors.

I’m encouraged that the new head of the County Economic Resource Council is knowledgeable about raising private capital. He runs a venture fund.

I’d be more encouraged if the Chambers of Commerce focused much more of their attention on business advocacy and worried less about event planning and tourism. It would bolster their membership, because members — many dozens of small businesses — would see a tangible reason to join. It’s the only way to make the Chambers self-sustainable.

I’d also be more encouraged if our local newspaper would find small business advocates, successful entrepreneurs and private sector “activists” to write a weekly column rather than another curmudgeon retiree (Rebane, Steele, now Boardman, etc.) who wants to blame government for all our woes.

It’s about the most unimaginative strategy I can think of.

The younger, working people in our community need to play a bigger role in politics and “thought leadership” — and be allowed to. “Good old boy” politics often hinders their participation.

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.

3 thoughts on “Economic development fueled by private, not public, sector”

  1. Jeff, while I thought Mr. Boardman was reasonably accurate and fair in his specific cites, I agree with you that his overall message might have been off – or perhaps more likely, setting the stage for upcoming election debates.
    Do I agree his point that everyone should be thinking the same way? Unity is always a form of strength but alternative approaches allow opportunities to see what works and what doesn’t – as well as protection against an ‘all in’ strategy that puts everything at risk if things don’t work out.
    I’ve submitted a column to the Union to offer an alternative to his perspective. As you point out, many believe there is a separation between private and public sector responsibilities. I offer evidence, however, that government CAN AND DOES do things to foster a healthy local economy and I cite examples.
    Whether or not election debate is his motivation, his issue is completely valid and the community deserves a robust debate on how community leaders are serving their community.

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