Ain’t No Negatives Here

In the recent past, the website of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) featured a prominent dashboard or scoreboard showing the cumulative number of jobs “created” since the beginning of the current administration.  Governors used these numbers when touting their economic development programs. It did not matter that these were jobs projected, not necessarily available or filled, or that some of those jobs would never materialize.

I was reminded of this scoreboard by a story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch about a printing company in Henrico closing, with a resultant loss of 240 jobs.  My counterpart at DPB who handled VEDP’s budget and I used to have a standing joke about the VEDP jobs scoreboard. Whenever I would point out a company closing or downsizing, especially at the beginning of the Great Recession, or a corporation moving out of Virginia and ask whether VEDP was including those job losses in its calculations, he would laugh and reply, “Oh no, Dick, we don’t include the negative numbers!”

It is a welcome sign that the “new” VEDP does not engage in this misleading boosterism.

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2 responses to “Ain’t No Negatives Here

  1. Well we KNOW that some of those jobs get “created” then go away as companies do in the economy even when they’re not “incentivized”.

    I guess I just see the incentives to get the company to come here – and no guarantee it will survive.

    ED incentives down our way these days are structured as “performance”, i.e. they don’t get the dollars unless they stay – and deliver as promised – at least for a few years.

    I believe we got Wegmans to come to Fredericksburg on that basis – and as long as they “deliver” jobs and sales – they get the rebates.

    Printing companies are dying… Paper Companies are dying. they just closed the Luke Paper Mill in Md – been there decades and their paper was “coated” paper that went into publications like National Geographic.

    story is here: “It was the backbone of this town for 131 years. Now Luke paper mill is gone.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/it-was-the-backbone-of-this-town-for-131-years-now-luke-paper-mill-is-gone/2019/05/31/d4e53198-82d1-11e9-95a9-e2c830afe24f_story.html?utm_term=.9a2cea702d91

    so you’d NOT try to attract another buyer for that Mill – would you, knowing what is happening to paper mills around the world?

  2. There’s a reason why Economic Development and Erectile Dysfunction have the same initials. Both require temporary fixes to longer term problems. I wonder how much money Silicon Valley or Seattle or Austin spend trying to attract new businesses. Well oiled economic engines don’t have to bribe companies to come to town. In Virginia we have a good economic development operation at the state level. What we lack is the longer term, more difficult effort required to create the next Austin or Seattle.

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