Whitman County agreed Monday to join a proposed summit to discuss the development of the Pullman-Moscow corridor.Murf editorial echoes Gordon Forgey's recent editorial in the Whitman County Gazette that development must come from the private sector, not government. Murf's idea to include business in the summit is commendable. However, the only business thathas expressed interest in the corridor thus far is the Hawkins Company, and the Moscow City Council has obviously vowed to fight the Hawkins strip mall development to the death. That is why this summit is ultimately doomed to fail. Depsite any noble purposes, "parochial politics" will not be set aside.
The summit is based on an idea developed for Moscow by NewCities for a “knowledge corridor.” The concept would utilize the resources of the two research university communities to attract high-tech businesses to the area.
The Pullman-Moscow corridor is a logical place to encourage such development.
Whitman County’s participation is essential because much of the land in the corridor is in the county, and any business relocating to that land must go through all the county’s hoops.
That said, another place must be set at the summit table – one for industry.
Government can do much to facilitate corridor development through zoning and the permitting process. Government can help attract businesses to the area by working with economic development groups. Government can be creative in how it approaches the development process.
But government can’t build a business. That’s not its job.
Any summit or discussion on development must include business.
Governments risk little on development.
Businesses on the other hand, risk a great deal before they even open their doors. The investment in real estate and construction is substantial.
For corridor-development discussions to be successful, participants need to be aware what’s at stake.
It’s easy to set goals and standards for development once the parochial politics are set aside.
Attracting industry is the tough part and will remain so as long as government has little or no idea what business is looking for.
“We can work together,” Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch said of the summit. “We did the Chipman Trail and Whitcom, but it takes understanding of the overall goal.”
That goal will remain unclear until representatives from the high-tech industry are on board with the two counties, both universities and the cities.
UPDATE - April Coggins comments:
"Notice there is also no mention of current property owners. If land owners on SR270 would rather sell to a retail developer than a university produced "high tech" developer, how would they be stopped? Why, with more regulation of course. Moscow's goal is to try and convince Whitman County to ban all corridor development that does not fit in with the NewCities recommendations. The type of development that Moscow wants is clean high tech industry, recruited by WSU and U of I.I would further add that it is extremely ironic that county commissioners would accept Latah County's and Moscow's input on growth in Whitman County while they seemingly ignore the input of Whitman COunty citizens on how their own land can be developed.
Washington state has no income tax, we rely on retail and property tax, so the entire idea would come with a higher cost to Whitman county's infrastructure with no tax benefit. Idaho does have an income tax, so Idaho would benefit from any resident who works there plus they would not have to provide any infrastructure. It's a win-win for Moscow and a lose-lose for Whitman county."