There are two truths of Whitewater’s economy, each fundamental and each a refutation to the last generation’s myth-making. For today, it’s enough to list the two fundamental truths.
Large Public Projects Haven’t Overcome Weak Household-Income Levels in Whitewater.
This is true both in aggregate, and for age brackets (children, adults 35-64) not representative of the student population in town. There’s much more to write about this topic, and it places bridges, roundabouts, an East Gateway project, a large wastewater plant, an ‘Innovation’ Center, tax incremental financing, tech startups, and Next Big Thing proposals in their proper, and faint, light.
About community development, there is this, above all other questions:
What is the benefit of community development apart from meaningful and widespread gains in individual and household income?
The trickle down of state capitalism (that is, sham capitalism) from an alphabet soup of government agencies trying to pick winners in the marketplace has only made matters worse – money spent for the gain of a connected few, at the public expense of many others.
Direct assistance to the needy would have been a better approach, with more of what’s needed reaching those who need truly it.
See A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA, About that Trump Tax Plan, ‘Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case Against Tax-Increment Financing’, Buying Whitewater a Present, and comments on income and poverty in Whitewater.
Single-Family Home Demand is Weak in Whitewater, But Rental Demand is Strong.
By contrast, single-family home demand is strong in nearby towns, but rental demand is relatively weak.
Whitewater is only one part of a larger, nearby economic environment, but efforts to restrict rental housing, subsidize single-family housing, or promote non-stop one option over another assume that Whitewater in isolation should re-create through government action (or marketing) what other nearby areas already have in abundance.
For some in Whitewater, it’s as though one part of a larger body – a hand, let’s say – were fighting to develop the characteristics of a foot. One could try to walk on one’s hands, of course, but it’s easier to use feet for walking, and hands for grasping objects. Whitewater’s a more popular choice for some kinds of housing, and the towns nearby a more popular choice for others.
That it takes strenuous efforts to encourage even thirteen private homes to be built in the city shows the lack of broad-based single-family housing demand. It would require thousands of new homes – and no change in rental units – to take Whitewater merely to an even spilt between rental and owner-occupied units.
It doesn’t matter how much land is available within the city limits. The mere presence of available land in Whitewater does not create a demand for any given use – in some cities land is in demand as farms, in others for homes, in still others (like Whitewater) it’s in demand for apartments.
Whitewater’s failed public policy over the last generation ignores these truths, and instead falsely implies that big public works will improve individual well-being, and that the demand of the housing market within the nearby area can easily be changed by regulations, subsidies, or a marketing push inside Whitewater.