Monday, April 09, 2007

Has Mike Sylvester been "brain-washed?"

Robert Enders has a great sense of humor. In a comment yesterday Robert opines that I am being "brain-washed" in regards to Harrison Square...

I am still against the Harrison Square Project as proposed; however, my opinion about the need to attract and retain young qualified workers has changed over the last few days.

I always thought that people would move based on employment. I have done this throughout my life. I feel that people my age (39) and older have tended to move to a new geographic location due to employment.

After talking to several people and looking at various statistics it seems to me like this trend has possibly changed over the last ten - fifteen years. It seems that many young people actually move to a location without having a job and then look for a job. This is a complete change from my generation and from generations before mine. To be honest with you this change makes no sense to me at all. Throughout my life I have always looked for a job and then moved to the job. I have done it over and over. It seems logical to me. I have never really cared where I lived in the past.

If the above assumption is true, and I think that it is, then I now think it is more important to make Fort Wayne attractive to young individuals. I think we need to look at other cities of a similar size in the Midwest and we need to ensure that we are competitive with them as far as being able to attract young talent.

That does not mean I am in favor of Harrison Square. I do not think that moving a Single A Baseball Stadium downtown will attract young talent. I do not think building another hotel downtown will attract young talent. I do not think building a new Parking Garage will attract young talent.

I am now willing to consider other projects that would be attractive to the "younger" crowd.

Mike Sylvester


Robert Enders said...

There are some fields in which a person in that field can get a job anywhere in the country. A nurse, for example, can spontaniously decide to move to any state and be assured of finding employment as a nurse. On the other hand, if Mike wanted to continue his career as a nuclear technician, he would not be able to do so in Fort Wayne. Of those who pick a place to live before looking for a job, how many work in fields in which there are job openings all over? And how many of them end up with low paying temp jobs? How many of them admit failure and move back in with their parents? How many of them are English majors who want to move to New York to become writers and end up waiting tables?

A person who moves to an area without knowing if he can find a job there is not making a rational life descision. Many people are going to go where they can work in their chosen field and live in a safe neighborhood. That is Fort Wayne. Many decide to live someplace warm and by the ocean. That is not Fort Wayne. And some choose to move someplace that is "cool", a completely arbitrary distinction that changes from year to year. I have never heard that adjective used to discribe Fort Wayne. I live here because there is affordable housing and a low crime rate.

Robert Enders said...

Mike, I said that they were "trying" to brainwash you. I don't think that they are succeeding, but they somehow seem encouraged by the results.

Scott Greider said...

Mike, I'm very impressed that you have admitted openly to a change of opinion and position. Oh, that all politicians would follow your lead. Bravo!

However, I'm still confused. If you now believe it's important to do what's necessary to keep young people in the Fort, and young people are OVERWHELMINGLY in favor of HS, then why the opposition still? Why wouldn't that position change also, from one of opposition to one of, say, cautious support? You know, pending final numbers, or something like that.

In other words, why look for other projects to support when this one, even though possibly less than ideal on financing, will do the trick?

Tim Zank said...

So let me get this straight, what this issue has finally brought to the surface is:

Fort Wayne wants/needs/has to have
single 25 to 35 year old professionals making 100k + per year. This will make Fort Wayne prosperous and "vibrant"?

How many people fit that description in the entire country?

What type of business attracts that demographic? Attorney? Advertising? Stockbroker? Fashion? Software? Medical?

Everyone says we need to attract or retain "talented young people".
Dare I ask, talented at what?

For Gods' sake, you're way over-thinking this one. Are there enough baseball fans to support a new stadium? Yes or No...

Do all of you non-baseball fans want to pay for it? Yes or No..

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Scott Grieder:

First of all I do NOT think young people are overwhelmingly in favor of Harrison Square. When I look at both polls I have seen it seems to me that young people are SLIGHTLY in favor of the project.

When the project first came out I was somewhat against it.

Then when it looked like they were going to try to "ram it down our throats" I became strongly against it.

I am still against it; however, I find myself back to somewhat against it; pending the financing.

The financing matters a great deal to me.

I still do NOT think that this project will draw young people to Fort Wayne; however, I think that I more uderstand where the supporters are coming from.

Mike Sylvester

Kat Coble said...

What I'm missing is information on how many of these young people are actually in favour of the baseball stadium itself?

I can see young people buying the line about "the stadium will attract more night-life to downtown" and thus thinking the stadium is a great idea.

Of course no one has been able to prove that the stadium WILL indeed bring the bars, nightclubs, etc. to the city centre. Instead that seems to be a bit of wishful thinking engineered by the fellows who want the Fort to pay for their baseball stadium.

I have never had a problem with the idea of renovating downtown. I will always have a problem with this tail-wagging-the-dog approach to the chosen projects.

From what I've seen, Fort Wayne didn't proactively plan and design this baseball business. They had it force-fed to them by a few self-interested parties who now persist on engineering their whims on the backs of the populace.

If you want bars and clubs downtown, fine. Build and pay for bars and clubs downtown. But don't build and pay for a child's amusement arena under the assumption that once that's there you'll get your bars and nightclubs ex post facto.

Tim Zank said...

In addition to Kats' observations, add in the "cloud" of stepped up DUI enforcement and no smoking and your "nightclubs" become a lot less desireable for the age bracket you're trying to attract..

Mike Kole said...

Mike- I know that a LOT of people I grew up with had one thing in common about their future: We wanted to leave Cleveland. I'm 38, so we're very close in age.

Of that large group, most did leave. Many had it in their minds that there were places they wanted to live: New York, LA, London, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas. That group all went to where they wanted to go. Others did follow employment, but had a sense of the kind of place they wanted: warmer/sunnier, more exciting, less heavy industry, more liberal, more conservative, etc.

Note that NONE of these people chose a destination because of a really important downtown project. There was something present that was much larger than a project. A feeling, a vibe, a sense of something hard to describe. Heck- Cleveland had its' share of revitalization projects and stadiums, and still the population declines year by year.

I've always felt that places that are not interesting enough to draw tourists have to work a lot harder to draw people to want to make a home. Cleveland doesn't get this at all. Cleveland has horribly high tax rates that conspire with the ugly weather to keep the affluent from moving into the region, even.

Robert pointed to affordable living and low crime in Fort Wayne. That's ok and it may keep some people in the area from leaving, but it isn't likely to move some young woman in Nebraska to dream big dreams about Fort Wayne, and to tell all of her friend about her big plans for Fort Wayne, to impress those friends.

There is no answer to this problem that a government project can provide. I like to think that making Indiana a wealth magnet by stripping away taxes could help, but I really only believe that will work to a point. Unless Indiana takes on the spirit of something exciting, I don't see it changing with dramatic improvements in any of our urban centers.

The adjectives used by my friends in NYC, LA, Vegas, etc., to describe Indiana include: "flyover country", "farm country", "hillbilly country", "Indiana-no place", "boring", "stuffy", "fat", "slow", and "backward". That's one hell of a PR problem! I hate having to endlessly defend Indiana, but that's how we're perceived by so many I know. I can't even get them to visit me at my home, staying with my family- something they used to do in Cleveland. (Well, many of them still have family and friends there).

I tend to resist plans like HS because I get the sense that with each one, the tax burden will only grow, and that will push more people of means out of a city. If you want to know why the suburbs exist, consider that maybe the policies that rule the day in the urban center push people away to places where there are no government projects.

Robert Enders said...

As I've pointed out before, Allen County's population grew by 5% last year. Hoo-ah!

William Larsen said...

Here is my two cents. First off, to spend $80 to $120 million to retain young talented people is a lot of money. What are we trying to do here? When looking at the amount of capital it takes to hire one person, we might get an idea as to how many people we are trying to keep from leaving?

For example if it takes roughly $100,000 in capital to hire one person, we would be looking at trying to keep 800 to 1,200 young people. Is this a lot out of 300,000 in the community? What is so important about these people that we as taxpayers want to give them $100,000 each to stay?

But more importantly, all we need do is look at the demographics. Is Allen County shrinking in population, no? According to the sate of Indiana, Allen County is growing faster than most counties in the state. This means we have a net influx, not exodus as the Fort Wayne says we have.

But maybe it is not Allen County that is having the problem in attracting people, but rather it is Fort Wayne that is having difficulty attracting young people.

Maybe some of the problem is due to Fort Wayne Community Schools not properly maintaining their schools? Maybe they have short changed the property tax rates for the past 30 years and now have been playing catch up, charging the property owners today to pay for past mistakes. I know this would make me not want to live in Fort Wayne.

Maybe it is wanting to see other places? How many have been outside Indiana? I come across people frequently who have never been outside Indiana. It just amazes me.

I left Indiana when I joined the Navy. I left Indiana to take my first position in Virginia. I move back in 2001.

The Harrison Square project is a waste of taxpayer money. If it is such a good idea, it needs no backing from taxpayers. Let private investment take the risk and make the money. If young people want a baseball stadium, let them be investors.

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