A?change in philosophy

Jeff Fox, Minot

In a recent letter to the editor of The Minot Daily News, Nick Schmitz made a very strong case for the reasons why the MAGIC Fund should be eliminated.

He argued that regardless which fund the money used to entice new business ventures to set up shop in Minot, they’re all taxpayer funds. And as such, while benefiting the new business venture, we ultimately harm the everyday taxpayer. I’ll add to that by saying that not only do we harm the individual taxpayer, we also harm the business and corporate taxpayers by inviting new and ultimately competing business enterprises to come in at the expense of the existing businesses.

Schmitz also argues that by taxing the taxpayers, we harm their standard of living. Absolutely correct! More money in the local government’s pockets means less money in the taxpayer’s pockets. Less food on the table, less money for discretionary spending equals a lower standard of living. But I’ll add to that argument.

Minot is in an amazing position. We have businesses moving in every day. Our population is growing by leaps and bounds. We don’t need to entice businesses here with the promise of grants, tax breaks, free land or buildings. We should be enticing them here with promises and stories about the nature of Minot’s geography, natural resources, people, and the beauty of our city. Or should I say the former beauty of the city, which brings me to the point where I differ with Schmitz.

Here we are, two years after the great Souris flood and we still have areas of the city that look like a war zone. Our streets are in horrible condition, even in the areas of town that did not flood. Why not use MAGIC fund money to fix and repair our ailing infrastructure? By doing so, we are creating value for not only the incoming new business ventures, but also for the resident individual and business taxpayers through improved streets, sewers, and cleaner and safer neighborhoods.

We here in Minot are fortunate to live in area that is surrounded by great natural beauty and recreation opportunities. We’re surrounded on all directions with the scenic beauty of state and national parks. We have some of the best fishing, hunting, and recreational opportunities in the nation. And we have a wonderful climate. Yes, you read correctly, a wonderful climate. We often hear comments like “our winters keep the riffraff out.” But we all need to realize that when we make comments like that, it is to the detriment of our community. We scare people off who might otherwise find they really love our climate. Why not use the MAGIC Fund to promote the community and to provide resources and talking points to local residents to use when talking to their friends about the beauty and wonderful opportunities here in Minot?

Economic development programs in North Dakota have always seemed to me to be very biased and a means for local government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers at the expense of individual and corporate taxpayers. It’s time to change that mentality and make us all winners through community improvement and promotion. I say don’t eliminate the MAGIC Fund, but fundamentally change the way in which it is used.