Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building


February 21, 2014

Layers of the economic development conversation

Pizza NightAs many communities talk about economic recovery and future development, the conversation is often framed around the question, "what's the best investment of taxpayer dollars to achieve economic growth in our area?"

The question is scaled up and down - from "what's the best investment of the U.S. federal government's taxpayer-funded resources to recover from a down economy?" all the way to (in my local case) "how should Richmond and Wayne County, Indiana spend funds captured through the EDIT tax to develop the local economy?"

For many people, the question in that form doesn't have any problematic premises.  But it's at least worth noting that there are some assumptions built in:

  • That the government and/or economic development corporations are the best entities to facilitate economic development
  • That taxpayer dollars should be used to fund economic development activities
  • That economic development as traditionally defined is a good thing

And so on.  Within each of those premises you can probably break them down further, e.g. if you ask people what economic development means, for some it's primarily "job creation" and for others its "improving quality of life" and for still others its "developing infrastructure."

The reality is that there are a number of layers to the conversation about economic development, most of them never touched or examined in the mainstream.  We might visualize those layers this way:

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June 26, 2012

Shuman on alternative models of economic development

I have a guest editorial piece in today's Palladium-Item, End risky economic games.  I've also reproduced the edited version of the piece below.  I had originally hoped to title it "What can James Bond teach us about economic development?" but I decided that's not actually a question I want to know the answer to.  So instead the article focuses on two different labels for economic development models, coined by author Michael Shuman.

I first saw Shuman speak at a conference back in 2005.  He's an economist, attorney, speaker, author and entrepreneur, and he's written a number of books on the economic why and how for creating thriving, self-reliant communities.  In particular, he posed the labels of "TINA: There is no alternative" and "LOIS: Local Investment and Import Substituting" as shorthand names for the dominant economic development model of today (TINA) and an alternative model that he sees having great success and sustainability on paper and in practice (LOIS).

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June 20, 2012

A city in distress

edvard munch - the scream  1893If you live in or near Richmond, Indiana, it looks like you picked the wrong year to stop sniffing glue. (Does anyone get Airplane! references anymore?)

Have you ever scored yourself on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, which measures your personal stress based on which of 43 major life events (death, divorce, job change, etc) have happened to you in the past year? It's an interesting scale because it recognizes that significant life change - positive or negative - brings with it an increased potential for illness and possibly other problems.

I think if we were to do a similar scoring of events in the life of a midwestern city, Richmond, Indiana would be somewhere in the "freaking out" to "going ape-shit" range. I dare say, we're a city in distress.

Even beyond what's happening at the state, national and global level - economic turmoil, war and other violence, toxic political races, Charlie Sheen's career, etc. - I suggest that the last year in the life of our community has been an unusually tumultuous one here.

Just a partial list of some major events I've observed in the recent life of Richmond in no particular order:

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November 15, 2011

Quantitative easing and structural unemployment

Globalization // Coming 2 a mystical cliffside near u - v.2That title really roped you in, huh?  Allow me to explain.

Earlier today I attended the Indiana University 2012 Business Outlook Panel in its visit to Richmond.  It's a group that "has presented national, state, and local economic forecasts for the coming year to business, political, and community leaders of Indiana" for the last 38 years.  I attended the same gathering back in 2005 and I have to say that today's commentary wasn't much different from what it was six years ago: "things are not great with the economy, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic."

As I noted in my reflections from the 2005 event, there were a couple of troubling ideas that permeated the remarks, especially from the panelists looking at global and national trends.

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September 14, 2010

Hero Worship

RepresentSometimes, it's important to question the unquestionable.  One area where I see that our culture has the most difficult time doing this is in talking about the funding of our military defense and public safety services.  At a national/international level, it's the U.S. Military and private security contractors.  At the state, county and city level, it's police officers along with firefighters and EMTs.

Lawmakers and executive branch leaders across the political spectrum are acutely aware that they'll never be criticized for "supporting the troops" that serve in these operations.  In his recent speech updating the world on the status of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he also acknowledged the tenuous state of the economy, President Obama said that, "as long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us."  The finest in the world.  Whatever it takes.  These phrases mean something coming from the President of the United States.

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January 18, 2010

Waiving fees on charitable donations to Haiti

Moon Over MonteleoneA few petitions and e-mail campaigns have been circulating that demand financial institutions waive their processing fees for the handling of donations to help relief efforts in Haiti, following the earthquake there last week.  Some of the requests that I've gotten have expressed irritation that fees are charged at all on charitable giving transactions of any sort.

While I commend the efforts of those who are seeking to maximize the funds that have a direct impact on the actual aid work, I'm not sure that this particular request makes sense to me.

First, a little background on how processing fees work:

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