Column: Is Westfield’s economy sustainable?

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Commentary by Donald Rainwater 

Economic growth means more jobs, goods and services are available from which everyone can benefit. As the area’s tax base increases, more tax revenue is generated to pay off debt and provide better services at a lower cost per taxpayer. This sounds really great.

Economic growth isn’t always stable. When economic growth is organic, naturally occurring without government intervention or manipulation, it is usually scalable and sustainable. However, when economic growth is artificially stimulated by government intervention and manipulation, the economy becomes dependent upon continued stimulation.

Economic growth usually results in more school-aged children and, therefore, more schools, teachers, buses, desks, chairs, etc. Economic growth also results in additional police and fire personnel, fire stations, fire trucks, police cars, housing developments, roads, stores, restaurants, etc. All of these things need either tax revenue or consumer spending to remain stable, let alone thrive.

What happens when an area’s economic stimulator ceases to generate the tax revenue and consumer spending, without being replenished? Economic depression is what happens. Cities, such as Kokomo and Anderson, were once economically thriving. Now, they are areas of economic devastation, due to unstable and artificially stimulated growth. They were built on a single economic stimulator: manufacturing. When the manufacturing jobs left, the economy crumbled and hasn’t recovered.

Westfield is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. However, our mayor and city council have decided to build our economy on the popularity of sports. They are artificially stimulating our economy instead of allowing it to grow organically. How long will the tax revenue and consumer spending support Grand Park and the businesses which rely on it? Other areas see the success of Grand Park and want a piece of the action. Competition is coming. What happens to Westfield when the “Grand” wears off?

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