It is clear that a strong recovery means rebuilding our local economy. Rebuilding our economy can no longer mean handing out taxpayer dollars to large corporations with no strings attached. We must broaden our vision to achieve a 21st Century economy. This means not only supporting large corporations, but also small and midsize businesses. This means working with our friends in the organized labor community. Perhaps most importantly, this means investing in our people to ensure a reliable workforce.

Rein in our “no strings attached,” taxpayer-funded handouts

Too often, large corporations receive taxpayer-funded incentives to build and locate in our community. While this is a tried and true economic development strategy, we can no longer afford to give away our taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations without requiring those corporations to reinvest in our community. We should ask these companies to hire from within the community, help us develop or rebuild our neighborhoods, and support other community initiatives.

Help every business succeed

We can no longer afford to play favorites when it comes to supporting businesses in our community. We must broaden our economic development strategy to include assistance and resources for small and midsize businesses, cutting out the red tape that can get in the way of progress. When opportunities for support arise, we must not only make a concerted effort to communicate these opportunities to these businesses, but we should work with them during the application process to ensure that resources are distributed equitably throughout our community. Our economic development strategy must also consider the needs of women and minorities in business who are underrepresented and often under-resourced relative to their counterparts within the larger fabric of our local economy.

Give local vendors and businesses a first look

For every government contract, good faith efforts should be made to find vendors and businesses right here in our community who can do the job. We should work within existing laws to ensure that we are reinvesting taxpayer dollars into the very homegrown businesses that power our economy. In addition, although collective bargaining laws have been gutted by the state legislature, our government should find ways to work with certified developers and qualified builders.

Moving from a grey economy to a green economy

Our city government should incentivize sustainable, environmentally sound and socially responsible businesses. We should continue to prioritize green research and make sustainability a priority. We should look to improve mass transit by developing an infrastructure that promotes biking and walking.

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