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Monday, November 04, 2013

Can Business Ever Save Itself If a 17 to 1 Return Requires Government Funding?

This is unbelievable in my view but nothing surprises me about the Janesville City Council. Here's the story in a nutshell.

According to a recent Janesville Gazette article, the city council is debating whether to give a larger share of the city's room tax to the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau by the way, is an independent, nonprofit corporation funded by the city room tax. Yes, one of those. The majority of council members want to give the bureau a 5% increase putting the bureau's share of the room tax revenue at 47.5%. Currently, the bureau gets $272,484 from the city.

One council member, businessman Brian Fitzgerald, wants an even larger increase of 10%. Here's the reasoning he used to make his collectivist case.

JG Excerpt:
Every dollar invested with the bureau creates more than $17 in economic impact for local business, Fitzgerald said, citing visitors bureau statistics.

Nothing we do in City Hall has that kind of return," Fitzgerald said.

Whoa!! Nothing they do in City Hall??? ...NOTHING THEY DO IN BUSINESS has that kind of return unless they're doing something illegal.

That's a return of 1,700%, that's one thousand-seven hundred percent!! for BUSINESS! .....and government has to fund it??

Forget city hall. Shouldn't local businesses be in the business of attracting more customers to increase their business? Isn't that their business?

What has free market capitalism come to when a 1,700 percent return isn't enough for local businesses to invest in?

How much certainty and government aid do you need? Lord have mercy!! On top of that, council members want the city administration to find $31,500 in corresponding cuts to other programs and services (through no fault of their own) to satisfy state imposed (Walker) zero-sum budget requirements. This is nuts.

I'll cut straight to the point. The city should continue to fund the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the next three months to give it time to raise the funds they require and then cut it completely loose from government dependency. The cash-strapped city will then save more than $275,000 annually to help attract returning visitors by providing them with nice local roads and well-maintained public utilities.

That's typically what local government does to promote a city and to provide visitors a welcoming and safe experience.

With a 1,700 percent ROI talking point, the visitors bureau should have an easy time raising the money from members of the wealthy Forward Janesville and Rock County 5.0 business cartels. It's their business. Heck, they'll be fighting over who could donate more. The RC5 brags about having a privately funded million dollar bankroll for economic development. So I ask, what economic development could return a greater impact than $17 for every dollar spent? This is a no-brainer.

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