Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Amateur Night

Everybody, these days, seems to think they're Donald Trump.

Monday's edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that:
Washington State University, the Palouse Economic Development Council and the Port of Whitman County have joined to sponsor a business plan competition that aims to create new businesses and jobs in the region.
Sounds great, what's the catch?
[PEDC Director Tammy] Lewis said local people already know the issues the area faces, usually put less strain on the area’s infrastructure, hire local people and create ties with other businesses.

[Executive Director of the Port of Whitman County Joe] Poire said homegrown businesses provide sustainable jobs for the area and hire people from the immediate area instead of transferring employees from the outside.
Ah, economic xenophobia rears its ugly head again. When are people in Whitman County going to get it into their heads that there are not very many venture capitalists on the Palouse. We should welcome ANY investment, oustide or not. As Ed Schweitzer said:
"It would be a big mistake if we were not to welcome a barbershop as well as a plane manufacturer. If (Whitman County) does that, they will come."
In today's Daily Evergreen , Haley Paul shares her undergraduate vision for downtown Pullman:
As it is, downtown Pullman might be considered quaint and cute. The Audian Theater, Brused Books, CafĂ© Moro, Bella Dolci and Swillys all offer a noncorporate, small-town charm to one’s movie-going, book-browsing, coffee-drinking or dining needs. The problem is, there are only about eight quaint and cute places to choose from, and with vacated sections dispersed throughout Main Street and Grand Avenue, one wonders just how cool Pullman could actually be.

How do a blood bank and a church make it downtown, while another bar, dance club, clothing boutique or sit-down pizza place couldn’t? This is not to say Pullman should stop allowing blood banks and churches to set up shop and be there for the community. But they should be outside of the downtown area.

If we had a more nightlife-oriented downtown, small businesses would prosper. Heroes N’ Sports could add more TVs to broadcast various sporting events, and entice a large underage crowd that can’t get into the bars. If a bigger, livelier bar were built downtown, it could attract a wider variety of bands and offer a greater variety than just the jazz at Rico’s pub.

Many people gripe that Pullman does not need any more bars. But if there were more bars downtown, perhaps underage drinking could be better regulated because you have to have identification to get in. Also, the older undergrads and graduate students who are sick of the tried-and-true house party could find a refreshing, slightly more mature, social atmosphere on Main Street.

Big-city life and anonymity doesn’t have anything on the charm and style this little town could have. Downtown has the potential to be something really innovative, entertaining and productive for Pullman.
Well, Haley, in the real world we have this thing called the free market and the reason a blood bank and church "make it" downtown is because they had the MONEY. It's so bourgeois, I know, but that's all it takes. That and lots of land use lawyers and an incredible amount of patience. Ask Paradise Downtown, LLC. They are facing tremendous opposition to build a mixed-use commercial and residential space downtown which supposedly the Smart Growth crowd are in favor of (where's PARD anyway?) It's a wonder we have any growth, smart or otherwise, in Pullman. But if you have a few hundred thousand dollars laying around and are willing to risk it, Haley, by all means please go and open a sit-down pizza parlor in downtown and pray no one protests against you.

And speaking for the adults in the community, those of us who live here permanently, those families with homes and children that pay the lion's share of the taxes that pave the streets and keep all the other amenities going, we would like some more places to buy the essentials of life. That may be more "corporate", less "cute", less "quaint", less "small town", less "charming" and certainly less "cool" than more bars and clubs, but infinitely more necessary.

1 comment:

Satanic Mechanic said...

You bring up a point that not many WSU students know: WSU does not pay any taxes to Pullman. WSU is a state institution and does not pay any City taxes. Also WSU, the biggest land owner in Whitman county, does not pay county taxes.
Out of the 24,000 people who live here, only 8,000 of them pay property taxes. 8,000 supporting 16,000+.