Anti-growth? Then you’re also anti-plumber

“Greedy developer.”

It’s the refrain of Leon County’s anti-growth forces who want every new housing project painted as supplying a developer a third boat or fourth house.

It has been used to stifle new housing projects. To demonize employers. To demagogue economic growth.

4TLH is based on the idea that Leon County’s chronic problems with poverty and crime are directly tied to its legacy of anti-growth sentiment.

We found a tool that makes this case in a very compelling way.

The University of Colorado developed the AGC Construction Impact Model to measure the economic impact of development projects and, in particular, the types of jobs created.

The job creation from a 100-home development at the median price of a Leon County home ($279,000) is absolutely staggering. Look at these numbers:

You can see that 244 jobs are directly created from a development like this.

Two. Hundred. Forty-four.

That adds more than $13 million of labor income.

The jobs created, over the roughly one-year life of the project, are a classic collection of blue-collar and trade jobs:

  • 15 carpenter jobs
  • 9 plumbing jobs
  • 4 painter jobs
  • 3 roofing jobs
  • 2 sheet metal workers

There are dozens of other trades impacted.

Then we get to indirect benefits such as upstream supply chains, architecture, engineering, etc. That adds another 68 jobs and $3.6 million more in labor income.

Finally, there is the category called “inducements,” which are essentially the household impact of workers spending their income in the community. That adds another 107 jobs.

This makes it clear that it is completely contradictory to be “pro-labor” and “anti-growth.”

And it’s why this community’s long-lived commitment to opposing growth has been not-so-coincidentally paralleled by relentless poverty and crime.

Also, to blame are those who meekly have surrendered to the idea that we are simply a government and college town and that’s all we’ll ever be. Thankfully, folks in Raleigh and Nashville and Little Rock and Austin didn’t cave to that idea.

This data also puts an onus on local government to take seriously complaints about inefficiency in permitting and other problems with red tape.

But there are bright spots in our community when it comes to a commitment to blue-collar jobs. Former Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley’s brainchild – the Leon Works program — has been a fabulous way to commit to filling trades jobs should we ever wake up and realize that the best and fastest path to solving social problems is a good-paying job.

Bottom line: Economic growth drives jobs – not just for those who have built a development business (often from scratch) but the salt-of-the-earth blue-collar workers who rely on a revved-up economic engine for their livelihood.

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