Should we build local businesses that can finance a downtown revitalization or restore buildings to attract outside companies to move in? As an architect, this may be a surprising answer. Being integrally tied to the construction industry, our profession must develop a deep understanding of boom and bust economic cycles, and in particular recognize that real estate and construction is a support sector of the economy, not an economy unto itself.
It is clear that over the long term, our currently emerging strategy is flawed in that it will perpetuate the outflow of capital from the CSRA. Businesses, for all their flaws, build what they need. Governments build what they think businesses need. If we want to create a sustainable vibrant local economy, we must focus our efforts on supporting local startup businesses that will hire local people and return profits to the local economy. Governments can encourage this development through tax incentives for local investment and grants to support small businesses and research.
If we do this, we will create a lasting prosperity to sustain the long term revitalization of our area and mitigate the extreme cyclical nature of the real estate and construction industries.