City Of Bismarck Loses $7 Million On Land Deal, Declares Victory
The Northern Plains Commerce Centre has sat empty for years even after the City of Bismarck poured some $15 million in to it. The land was supposed to attract businesses to the community, but that didn’t exactly pan out.
But now the economic impact of the oil boom has reached Bismarck and there is some interest in the land among businesses. According to the Great Plains Examiner there are some $7 million in agreements to purchase land in the NPCC, so naturally city officials are claiming vindication.
Only in government could losing half of your money on a land deal be called vindication:
The city spent an estimated $15 million to improve the land and build the infrastructure needed to support large industrial businesses. That infrastructure includes roads, water lines, sewer lines, water retention ponds, rail lines and more. …
Now the city is working out deals with six companies that intend to buy land at a combined price of $7.2 million. Two other companies are finalizing leases that will bring additional revenue to the city over the long term. …
While city officials hail the recent activity at the Northern Plains Commerce Centre as a boon for Bismarck, taxpayer watchdogs argue that it’s an example of why government should avoid using public money on business ventures.
Brett Narloch, director of the North Dakota Policy Council, said economic development is better off left in the hands of private industry. He said only government would claim victory after pumping $15 million into a project, letting the property set nearly vacant for seven years and then selling it off for about half of the original investment.
“If they can squeeze something out of it, then that’s a good thing if they get some of their money back,” he said. “But had they not done anything in the first place, we’d be much better off.”
The Mayor of Bismarck, though, wants you to know that he doesn’t see losing $7 million on this boondoggle as a failure. In fact, he thinks the failure would be not spending the money in the first place.
On the other hand, Bismarck Mayor John Warford said the city’s investment in the industrial park was the right thing to do. He said it was the role of the city to establish it and then turn it over to private businesses.
“The option is to not have a community spend tax dollars for economic development,” he said. “And the only communities, in my opinion, that do that are the ones that are failing.”
You have to ask, though, what exactly did the city accomplish by building this facility? It at empty for years, and now they’re struggling to break even on their expenses even in the midst of an economic boom. All to provide land for businesses that probably would have moved into the community anyway because of the oil boom?
But that’s big government logic for you. These politicians seem to think that the economy won’t grow unless they’re on hand to dole out the special deals. Keep in mind, this is the same city that gave a $200,000 handout to a major airline to move into one of the fastest growing air travel markets in the country.Tags: big government, crony capitalism, economic development, john warfard, North Dakota News, northern plains commerce centre