Commercial development can be controversial. Which projects should receive tax subsidies? Which neighborhoods should be developed? What categories of business should be encouraged? These are important questions and reasonable people might disagree.
But we can all agree that reducing unemployment, increasing the number of good jobs and having businesses move into vacant buildings and warehouses are good ideas.
We’d also probably prefer to attract businesses that pay their fair share of taxes and government expenses, as opposed to businesses that must be wooed with special breaks, requiring us to make up the funds needed for our schools, roads, law enforcement and other government services.
Therefore, it is baffling to me why we are willing to bribe companies with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to come to our region. Recently, Sacramento competed with 200 other locations in a Bachelor-like contest to attract Amazon’s new corporate headquarters—Sacramento offered $500 million in tax breaks. The city offered Centene, a healthcare company, millions of dollars to move their West Coast headquarters here.
Cannabis cultivators are not asking for incentives to stay here, and they pay their fair share of taxes. Nevertheless, some local business associations have asked the city to limit the amount of square footage to be allocated for marijuana dispensaries and producers.
If we care about stimulating growth in our local economy, it’s important to attract businesses that provide services and products to a larger market, rather than businesses that will simply compete with our existing business community. When a business provides services or products to a larger market, their employees still spend their wages here, stimulating a multiplier effect in the local market. For every dollar spent, up to $5 of new local revenue are generated.
Cannabis cultivators are a good example of an industry that could bring new, good jobs into our community. Speaking as a business owner who moved into a building on Del Paso Boulevard that had been vacant for years, I would like any business, including marijuana growers and dispensaries, to move into vacant buildings and put employees in them. Our local businesses need more customers, and these employees will shop at local businesses and eat at local restaurants, bringing new money into our economy. Rather than limiting development in our neighborhood, fewer vacancies will increase the value of properties, increasing the likelihood that commercial developers will build in our neighborhood.
Sacramento in general and Del Paso Boulevard in particular should seize the opportunity to bring in these much-needed jobs. We should encourage businesses like cannabis cultivators, that will bring new jobs into our market. It is just common sense.