To a hammer every problem looks like a nail

Yesterday’s Economic Development/Locational Assessment and Strategic Plan Workshop by the Hillsborough BOCC had some interesting twists and some predictable outcomes.

BOCC chasing tailThe Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (THEDC) Strategic Plan report was presented by their out-of-town consultants Biggins Lacy & Shapiro (BL&S). These consultants patted themselves on the back for being ever-so knowledgeable about Hillsborough County, yet took two years to come up with this “Strategic Plan for Economic Growth.” BL&S specializes in corporate relocation. Not surprisingly, the “plan” they came up with focused on corporate relocation. The plan is for more planning over the next 3 to 5 years and targets  industry  clusters the State of Florida has been recommending for the past two years.

Yes, that’s right. It has taken the THEDC two years and $900,000 to recommend more planning. The plan is to figure out how to “assemble” parcels of dirt in the west and north east county that could be made “permit ready” to attract big, new business. Never mind all the land that has already been approved for such development.

Is it coincidental that land use attorneys and consultants get paid more for land use changes than for getting building permits for approved parcels? Who exactly sits on the board of the THEDC? Any possible conflicts of interest here?

Also recommended by BL&S is that their client, the THEDC be given yet more authority over county economic development, and still more money than the $450,000 the County now gives them each year.

Out of the blue (and not on the agenda), Commissioner Hagan once again brought up his campaign promise for Bass Pro Shops and went on to recommend that if his proposed Tax Incentive program wouldn’t work to attract them, then the obscure Industrial Development Authority (IDA) could stop funding hospitals and instead fund a Brandon Bass Pro Shops. This would done by folding IDA into THEDC. How this would operate along with the County Economic Development Department was not thought through.

BOCC Chair Higginbotham said he has already been looking into this and thinks it is a great idea. This is now on the BOCC agenda for next week. Whew!

Bass Pro Shops by the way is not one of the “targeted” industries. It is being touted as a “destination retail business” that will draw overnight visitors from 400 miles away. Never mind that there are already Bass Pro Shops 70 and 135 miles away.

I am looking forward to see how this all shakes out, and which of the many overlapping economic development entities in the county survives.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


One Response to “To a hammer every problem looks like a nail”

  1. […] To a hammer every problem looks like a nail ( […]

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