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Misdirection of Development Incentives

January 18, 2007

This is not really news, but it does seem to be an additional example. Washington-based “Good Jobs First” has released a Ford-funded study showing that subsidies for “job creation” tend to go to communities that have low unemployment. Of course, dummy! It’s easier to create jobs there.

Now the only reason I found this was that I was looking for the study released yesterday by “Broadway in Chicago,” asserting that their operations have an “annual economic impact” of $635 million in Illinois. I haven’t seen the details of how this is measured, but most likely it assumes that, if there were no BIC operation, then the theatres would remain dark, nothing else would be built in their place, and nobody who came to Chicago and saw one of their productions would have found any other reason to come. Furthermore, none of the people who serve these visitors, or the theaters, would have found any other work. Crains says that “Mayor Daley’s administration has invested about $60 million into the downtown theater district,” but doesn’t indicate how much went to BIC and what other subsidies they may have received. The Tribune assigned a theater critic, not a business or economic reporter, to the story.

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