Rural America And The Role of Government

When people run for office, we often hear that their goal is to promote “jobs, jobs and more jobs!” In my own experience of having held public office, there is a limited impact that a single individual can make in government in terms of job creation no matter how good their intentions.

Having also run a business, I can attest to the fact that taxes, no matter how they are imposed, are an “overhead expense” to a privately-run business. They do not add to profitability, they diminish it.

Thus, the number one goal if you are elected and want to encourage jobs in the private sector should be to try to keep taxes down. Reducing that overhead is the biggest thing you can do to help promote jobs. Government needs revenue, but those governing need to be cognizant that these costs are an expense to the private sector. Local government in New York state needs to be especially vigilant on this issue since New York already has a “high tax” reputation in relation to other states.

The second and more positive function of government that is most helpful to business and job creation is creating and maintaining public infrastructure. Business can’t thrive unless transportation, energy and public utilities are available, reliable and affordable. Good infrastructure is essential in order for businesses to be created and grow.

One good example comes to mind– the industrial parks in Chautauqua County. These have provided shovel-ready locations for new businesses with roads and utilities available including sewer, water, electricity and natural gas. Would there be a Southern Tier Brewery or a Bush Industries without these sites having been ready to go? The county is also working with Jamestown and Dunkirk to have “brownfield” sites with existing utilities made ready for business expansion. Having good public infrastructure is critical in creating jobs in the private sector.

Not all industries or businesses succeed. However, none will be built unless there is a place for them. Insuring that the infrastructure is in place to support job creation, is one of the fundamental requirements in good governing. These public works also need to be upgraded and enhanced as businesses grow and expand.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that other government services like public safety and good education are unimportant. But, if you are looking for what most quickly adds to a company’s bottom line and allows profitability to happen– I would say that keeping government overhead “down,” and keeping public infrastructure “up” are the key components.

This is especially true in fostering a manufacturing economy without which saving rural America will be a lost dream. As to infrastructure, we are still waiting for the long talked about federal infrastructure bill from Washington which was promised in the last national election. Let’s hope that someday we get it.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.