Thursday, October 29, 2009
Jobs: What Got Us Here Won't Get Us Where We Need To Go
Next to tolls, this election is really coming down to one issue: reviving our sagging economy.
My opponent has been bragging about his “Jobs Plan,” but no one seems to be asking the obvious question: where has this plan been for the last 14 years?
According to my opponent, he himself has brought 14,000 jobs to Vancouver in the last 14 years. Even if you accept the flawed idea that the mayor, not business, creates jobs, that number is embarrassingly low. In the last 14 years, our population has doubled. By adding 14,000 jobs, that means Mr. Pollard is boasting about just 2 jobs for every 10 new residents.
And to put that number into even sharper perspective, in the last year alone, Clark County has lost nearly 9,000 jobs!
We need a better idea.
If you read my opponent's “jobs plan,” you'll see that what he's essentially saying is “keep doing what we've been doing.”
But if what we've been doing had been successful, would we be in the same mess we're in now?
If we had enough jobs on this side of the river to employ the 60,000 people who have to commute to Portland every day, we might not have been hit so hard when the economy did crash last year. And if we had those jobs on this side of the river, you can be sure that the argument about tolls would be a different one. What if Mr. Pollard had worked to create a business climate that benefited all of our local companies instead of just a few big ones? We certainly wouldn't have been so deeply affected when SEH went through a major series of layoffs, when Nautilus repeatedly verged on bankruptcy, or when HP started stripping down its workforce.
I don't begrudge my opponent his position – having never worked in business, his perspective is understandably limited.
He simply doesn't understand that government doesn't create jobs; businesses create jobs. And in order for businesses to thrive, government needs to get out of the way.
I've been working with local business owners for years – local people who own businesses of all sizes and industries. And what they want is simple: streamlined permitting processes, taxes and fees that are reasonable and legitimate, and a city that prioritizes its commitment to basics like police, fire, and infrastructure. They want to know that their storefronts, warehouses and offices are safe, and they want the sidewalks and roads in front of them to be accessible and free of cracks, dips and holes.
By listening to our business community, and working with them to help them be successful, the City will benefit. Those businesses will grow, new businesses will be established, and City revenue will grow accordingly.
This is a time of much uncertainty, but there's one thing we do know for sure: what got us here isn't going to get us where we need to go.