Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Incentivize City Living

Why not bribe, I mean, incentivize people to live in Flint? It's happening in Detroit. CBS Detroit reports:

Blue Cross is offering incentives to their 16,000 employees to buy or rent downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a seed program to attract more development and more people to the city.

In the five-year, $4 million “Live Downtown” program, first-time home buyers will get a $20,000 forgivable loan. Renters will get a $2,500 first year allowance, and $1,000 the following year. Employees who already own a home in the city will be given up to a $5,000 grant for exterior improvements.

“Everything is market, and if you’ve got bodies and you’ve got volume, it’s gonna attract business, it’s gonna attract retail. You’ve gotta have that density and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Loepp said.


  1. I love this idea. I've always thought that if you live where you work, you'll care more about both, because you're wholly invested in the area. I really wish GM and the hospitals would've done this here; it would have helped eliminate the middle-class flight to the suburbs.

  2. Hey, there's still time for the hospitals. And UM-Flint, Mott and Baker. Perhaps Mott Foundation. After that, I'm not sure who would have the money to pull it off.

  3. Yeah, that's all fine and good, but incentives for anything seem to end with the public flipping the bill, and people finding loopholes to take advantage of them without following the intent of what the incentives were for in the first place.

    All this begging on our knees for companies to come in and bring magic jobs (that usually only succeed in killing small businesses and the jobs with them that generated more tax revenue in the first place) is the reason all of our state and local governments are going belly up in debt.

    Almost every one of these programs result in a net loss.

  4. Ahhh, plans! There's a great example, in today's Freep, of another of Doug Rothwell's plans gone awry -- and with him nowhere in sight to take any of the blame. This plan is, er, was the pie-in-the-sky Aerotropolis, which he floated a couple of years back. Well, it's at the center of a Freep article today that criticizes Wayne County for botching the handling of a $35.2 million investment in Huron Township aimed at creating 2,300 jobs. Supposedly, the project, which included a failed horse race course, was to attract billions of dollars in new investment to the area known as the Aerotropolis -- an area betwen Metro and Willow Run airports. But almost none of this investment -- nor the jobs -- has materialized. The article makes no mention at all of the Teflon-skinned Rothwell. To put this latest failed Rothwell plan into context, I include below a blog entry I wrote, on another blog, in October 2009 (it's a little long but I think well worth re-running here). One wonders what Freep columnist Tom Walsh will make of today's article. Will he ingnore it, spin it somehow in favor of Rothwell, or do his job and FINALLY expose Rothwell for the unnaccountable plan freakomaniac he is:

    Planning Doug Rothwell

    The Detroit media’s love affair with Doug Rothwell is understandable in a way: he unfailingly and shamelessly rolls out a new plan every six months or so. So predictable are Rothwell’s “new” plans that farmers could plant and harvest their crops accordingly.

    Rothwell’s plans are highly ambitious undertakings and, like Michigan’s legislators or any good assassin, his victims are always on the wrong side of the gun. In other words, Rothwell’s plans always ensure someone else takes a hit – never him or his organization. What a coincidence, huh? As a career policy wonk, plans are what Rothwell does – no, they’re ALL he does! So why not evaluate him by the successes and failures of his plans? Upon closer inspection, indeed not only do Rothwell’s plans have an almost zero success rate, but those plans more than not have a much darker side: some are plagiarized from highly suspect sources no longer able to complain about it; while others are highly hypocritical.

    Rothwell has been in the public eye, for good or ill, long enough to know that, in announcing every grand plan as if from Mount Olympus, he can count on a laudatory column from Free Press columnist and Detroit business cheerleader Tom Walsh and maybe even from other, more objectively critical and analytical media eyes.

    Yet not only are Rothwell’s plans almost never realized, oddly his timetables, promises and calls to action are seldom scrutinized later when a major deadline passes unmet or the entire plan fades into the truck exhaust over the Ambassador Bridge. Maybe that’s because he’s always got another plan to float, or maybe it’s because what’s left of the Detroit newspapers is more lapdog than watchdog.

    While at Detroit Renaissance, Rothwell proposed an airport city, or aerotropolis in Southeast Michigan. Trouble is, it’s an old plan masquerading as new – however strange and unlikely the source of the original. True crime author Mardi Link’s When Evil Came to Good Hart (University of Michigan Press) chronicles the unsolved 1968 murders of Richard Robison and his entire family in a cottage in Northern Michigan. Robison supposedly was the main target of the crime, and a business associate of his was the chief suspect. Robison was no angel; he was a complicated witch’s brew of ego, genius, churchgoer, womanizer and psychosis. Right before his death, he was supposedly trying to negotiate a deal with bankers to create an aerotropolis basically in the same area as Rothwell’s – if one can call it Rothwell’s. Go ahead, look it up. It’s all in Link’s book.

  5. Back in the 1980's Michigan state govt tried to reverse the interminable flush of responsible, tax paying residents from some of the worst Michigan cities... it was through tax abatements for their new inner city homes, abatements for taxes on their wages, 0 interest loan incentives, special police and lighting districts and guard posts and gated neighborhoods and lots of promises about "protecting their property investments".

    It did NOT work. Today, nearly every neighborhood built under those incentives failed to lure, seduce, con and fraud taxpayers residents from staying put in those neighborhoods.

    $365m in abated taxes and incentives and less than 11% of the original residents are still living in those "glorious turn-around" neighborhoods the press and local leaders coo-ed about just 12 yrs ago.

    Govt incentives to reverse taxpayer flight from the inner cities won't work until we end the corruption, chaos, greed and mismanagement of those inner cities. And that won't happen until the voters decide they've allowed their city to slide down the poop chute far enough.

    Flint is dead. It will never, ever come back until the corrupted city leaders and politicians are gone.

    Michigan taxpayers should not have to foot yet another bill for the failure of Flint voters to grow a spine and a pair...


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.