The city of Bend is considering not getting back to business as usual when it comes to recruiting business.
The city may do more to pick and choose what sorts of businesses and industries it recruits. That could help diversify the city’s economy and make it more resilient. It wouldn’t have to mean that the city was hostile to unfavored businesses. But imagine if your business was not eligible for money or other special treatment that the city was giving to other businesses? How would you feel?
We should be clear that this is just a discussion scheduled for a city subcommittee meeting on Tuesday. The proposal says the city would “attempt to prioritize industries that are aligned with community priorities and values,” such as “energy efficiency, employment for low-income and/or historically under represented residents, transportation and mobility technologies.”
How might that work? Money is an obvious way. The city could attempt to channel federal, state and/or local money to those sorts of businesses to help them locate or grow. It could lower fees for selected industries. It could remove or reduce regulations. It could move city-related permits to the front of the line. It could also use city-owned land to entice certain kinds of businesses.
Bend does some of this already. It has a dedicated tax devoted to creating more affordable housing. It has tried to repurpose land it owns for housing. It has gone through and tweaked regulations to make it easier for housing to be built and to make it easier to site child care.
There’s widespread agreement Bend has a housing problem and that it has a child care deficit. But is there widespread agreement that Bend should favor certain other types of businesses and industries? Much of that may depend on just how much favoritism Bend might show.