I had a nice conversation with a City of Racine alderman yesterday. I expressed my concern about the hassles involved with opening a business in Racine. If I understand the situation correctly, Racine has an ordinance that requires most businesses to get approval from the city council before opening. This approval also involves the Racine County Economic Development Corporation which exercises authority over many of Racine's commercial corridors. Ultimately the council decides the matter. When opening a business, there is considerable effort, thought, and expense required. In Racine, you can undergo this process flawlessly - you can have a great idea, you can find the perfect location to buy or rent, you can complete a business plan, you can successfully arrange financing, and you can see that your business concept accords with zoning laws - only to be stymied and or rejected by bureaucrats and politicians that have other ideas for said property. We now have a top down economic model in Racine.
Anyway, back to my conversation with the alderman. On numerous occasions he said that I made a valid point. Not once did he suggest that I was mistaken or ill informed. The conversation was quite pleasant and there was evidently much that we agreed upon. Even so, I am discouraged. Why? Because, based on years of experience, I have no hope that this alderman or any others will make any attempt whatsoever to repeal the ordinance that makes the top down economic model possible. There are too many entrenched interests from RCEDC to city development personnel to city alderman who depend on maintaining control of economic decisions in Racine. If Racine residents and would-be entrepreneurs were free to make their own decisions, there would be no need for the economic development specialists and planners. They plan on keeping their jobs. The bondage will continue for the rest of us.