For too long the leaders of Easton have equated assets to buildings. All of our economic development projects have been tied to specific buildings, and our resources have been spent on those buildings in anticipation of attracting a business to it. This flawed thinking has not been successful. Artificial intervention with tax dollars may attract development, but it won't sustain it.
For too long our economic development plan was based on our hopes and wishes instead of being market driven. If a business recognizes untapped consumer spending potential it will not hesitate to make an investment. Businesses don't migrate to buildings; they migrate to consumers. If risk is mitigated by consumer potential a business will have incentive to use its own capital to improve real estate.
A retail business should be located at a site with a good local consumer base. Very few businesses can count on consumers to flock to them. Businesses can not count on seasonal day tourists to make money; they need a full time consumer base, everyday, year round. And we need to make Easton more than just a tourist destination.
We need to keep Easton a living destination. We need local government to focus on the basics-- Essential services. We need a clean, crime-free city that provides services that are competitive with those of our neighbors. We need to improve the quality of life for the residents of our community so that people will come here, be happy, and stay for a lifetime. A pleasant by-product will be an environment that tourists desire. We need visitors to say, "I would like to live here."
It is ironic that many suburban malls are selecting "Urban Streetscape" designs. They are recreating what we already have. The investors want a clean crime-free environment near an new untapped consumer market. We have the "Urban Streetscape" now; we just need to mitigate the crime, keep it clean, and improve our consumer base. Economic development will take care of itself.
My suggestions to Easton's elected officials are focus on the basics, give economic development to groups or agencies more suited to deal with it, keep the city clean, reduce crime, maintain a safe environment, and reinvest in the infrastructure. This will improve the quality of life for residents (present and future) and attract businesses to serve resident consumers as well as day tourists.