Juxtaposition – Dreams & Reality

I try my best to stay out of state and national politics except when it directly impacts Newburyport, but I thought the Daily News’ front page was very telling.        On one side was the New Tech Center, flushed with gifts (our tax money) based on a dream:

“What this (Clean Tech) center is doing is dreaming about what we can do.    If we can have it manufactured here in our state, with people who have graduated from our high schools and community colleges, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

On the other side of the first page was the sad closing of the Lafayette Bowling Alley.      They also had a dream, “…kept thinking, ‘It’s going to get better.   It’s going to get better.’

Both though have to, in the end, face reality.

The biggest problem with the Clean Technology Movement IS reality.        The biggest problem for small business owners is also reality.        Both institutions have to face the ugly “P” word, Profitability.

Somewhere along the line, the government help has to stop and the Clean Tech Center has to produce proof that it is actually producing new jobs and new industries.

Somewhere along the line, small businesses have to produce enough to pay the bills, and generate enough income to create jobs and stay ahead of the inflation monster.

And when they both have to say, “There is just no money.   No income” hard times come.

Just in visual range of our downtown, the Clean Energy Movement is in trouble.     We have a wind turbine that only benefits one company and its energy output is a tiny fraction of what was promised.       The same goes for solar power – it was very telling when the solar energy advertisement in the Tannery lobby was taken down.         Alternative energy in the end has to stand on its own footing if it is to survive.        Dreams don’t put food on anyone’s table in the immediate now!

Much more alarming, as we have seen with Frasier Motors and now Lafayette Lanes; mounting prices, inflation and the rising cost of insurance and labor costs plus the high cost of ‘keeping up’ in maintenance is killing smaller businesses.

I recently was party to a conversation with one of the owners of the Common Man in New Hampshire.     This very successful restaurant franchise is only in New Hampshire and doing VERY WELL.    They are most noted for taking a large barn and turning it into a sparklingly clean fine-food establishment.  I threw out a proposal that to me seemed reasonable.     David Hall of Hall & Moskow recently refurbished a barn that is very close to Route One at the end of the residential Cottage Court.      If Common Man were to use it, they could bypass the residents and have easy access off Route One.        The owners agreed it was an excellent plan and they had been looking with envy at Newburyport.     

But they affirmed they had sworn never to do business in Massachusetts.      They said that businesses are regulated to death, the insurance liability on barns in the state made it practically impossible to use one for a restaurant business and that the average community in the state was hostile to business owners.*      

They turned down the offer firmly.

Taken together, that is why the block quote above is not just a dream, it is pure fantasy.      

-P. Preservationist
www.ppreservationist.com

* Which is why whenever Newburyport seeks companies to come to Newburyport – they end up only stealing one from another Massachusetts community!      These businesses have learned the fine art of maneuvering around our labor laws, regulations and tax structures while the average company in America would look with incredulity moving to this state.

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About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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One Response to Juxtaposition – Dreams & Reality

  1. PortSanity says:

    I know I said I’d stop leaving comments on your blog, but today’s post is so over-the-top, so inconsistent with your politics, so mis-informed, I must reply.

    First, I’m not sure where you’re getting your info about the amount of electricity produced by the Richey wind turbine, so I’ll trust you have something to back up your statement that it is producing “a tiny fraction of what was promised.” I’d like to see the data. Your statement that the turbine is only benefiting one company is factually inaccurate. The electricity used by Richey generated by the turbine reduces the amount of fossil fuel-based energy the facility would otherwise use, and any excess electricity produced goes back into the grid, further reducing the amount of electricity that must be produced using fossil fuel powered plants, which benefits us all. Yes, this is kind of a “soft” benefit, but it is a benefit.

    Second, you’re correct that eventually the clean tech and clean energy industries will need to generate profit. But to pronounce clean energy and clean tech “in trouble” at this nascent stage is premature. Why is it “very telling” that the advertisements for solar energy are no longer in the Tannery? Did you ever consider that there may have been an agreement to keep those in place for a fixed period of time? I suspect you didn’t consider it.

    As to clean energy, yes, government subsidies and tax incentives are necessary now, but eventually will be reduced and probably eliminated (much like the tax incentives that traditional energy companies receive, even now, many, many years after the inception of these industries). Are you seriously arguing that continuing to rely upon foreign supplies for a significant portion, if not majority of our energy sources, is and will continue to be feasible and prudent from the perspect of economics, politics, and national security? I believe the government needs to spend less overall, but not all subsidies and incentives are bad … were it not for government research and funding, your blog would not be possible, as the internet is the successor to a government sponsored project developed by DARPA.

    Third, perhaps the Common Man won’t come to Massachusetts because of the regulations they see as business-unfriendly … which is their right to evaluate. You decry these regulations as overly burdensome, yet champion highly restrictive historic building regulation in Newburyport. In your opinion, Is regulation good or bad? Or, are only those regulations you choose good, and all others bad?

    I suspect that much of your problem with clean energy (and the pictures in your post support this) is that you think it’s ugly. Even the industry located in, of all places, an industrial park, is viewed by you with contempt. We live in a beautiful, historic place. But we don’t live in utopia or in some sort of bubble. Things do and will change. Revenue is necessary, and unfortunately, tourism, though vital and important to Newburyport, is not a panacea.

    Can I ask you to suppose for a moment, that clean tech and clean energy are growing sectors of the economy. Jobs are being created, and will continue to be created. Without those who work toward innovation and market expansion now, where will we be in the coming years and decades? I suspect I know the answer, but I don’t know how to say it in Chinese.

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