23 February, 2010

Why Are Charleston’s Conservative Radio Talk Show Hosts Against the Tech Park?

Why Are Charleston’s Conservative Radio Talk Show Hosts Against the Tech Park?

Is it because the hi-tech tenants of that proposed park aren’t the kind of businesses that are likely to buy much radio advertising?

If the proponents of a plan to transfer ownership of the old Union Carbide/Dow Chemical site to the state wanted to fill that property with car lots and restaurants would Charleston’s conservative radio talk show hosts still oppose the plan?

I doubt it.

OK, Charleston’s conservative – it’s the only kind we have – radio talk show hosts seem to be a little confused so let me help them understand why they should support a plan to create businesses that won’t buy radio ads and won’t bring them free food while they’re on the air.

Conservatives are supposed to be in favor of economic development and job creation. The proposed tech park is a chance for our government to incubate new employers and attract still others resulting in hundreds or thousands of well-paying hi-tech jobs that will pump millions of dollars into the local economy. That's good.

While it’s true that hi-tech firms aren’t likely to buy many radio ads, the millions of dollars they pay their employees will enable hundreds or thousands of families to spend more money at restaurants and car lots resulting in more radio ad dollars for conservative talk radio.

True economic development involves monetizing something that wasn’t monetized before. To do that you have to either discover something of value and then monetize it or you have to invent / create / build something new and then monetize it.

If one of the restaurants that bring Charleston’s conservative talk radio hosts free food sells a meal, no new wealth was pumped into the Charleston economy and no new jobs were created here. The restaurant that sold the meal simply benefited at the expense of restaurants that didn’t sell that meal. The patron who bought that meal had to eat somewhere. The preparation and sale of a meal isn't economic development, it's simply a question of where the food is prepared and sold. Whether that consumer eats at restaurant A, restaurant B or simply stays home and fixes himself a sandwich, no new dollars come into the economy as a result of the consumer's choice.

"But" some may say, "if everybody stays home and fixes a sandwich, isn't that bad for the local economy?"

It's more money for Kroger, less for The Tidewater Grill or Aubrey's.

Note: Higginbotham At Large likes both Aubrey's and The Tidewater Grill so there's no need for people who own, manage or sell ads to those fine establishments to get mad. My point is simple: some kinds of business don't bring new money into the local economy.

Other kinds do.

The hi-tech jobs that a “commercialization” / pilot plant” park can bring to Charleston will result in new inventions and patents and in hi-tech jobs that will go somewhere else if we don’t capture them here. In other words, something new (inventions, patents, new products, new processes) will be created and monetized. That’s true economic development that benefits everybody in the Charleston area.


Higginbotham At Large welcomes comments – especially comments to the contrary. Just keep it clean and civil.

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