Through COVID-caused necessity, businesses and government learned to work remotely, and a segment of the workforce will continue to do so. How do we properly begin to project and forcast the impacts of this new reality?
City and state job creation incentives will have to be rethought to accommodate job growth among remote workers for one. Because incentives have been historically site-based, we may now need to consider new concepts to attract the businesses our community can thrive with in the 21st century.
We are going to have to consider the implications of reduced earnings from taxes based upon old "brick and motar" formulas. These past reliances focused on site-related taxes stemming from workers coming to the office. If people do not work in offices in an urban core; where will they want to live there? Communities are going to have to double down on efforts to be centers for entertainment, culture and the arts, providing that "live-and-play" environment if the close-to-work aspect of the formula is diminished.
West Virginia is even offering a "personal payment incentive" to new residents of $12,000 each for telecommuters. These upwardly mobile residents tend to be empty-nesters with greater access to disposable income. They also tend to create less stress on infrastructure demands in the community.
Tax collections are up in Rutherford County. Revenues are strong. However, we must check our past thought processes regarding job creation. We must focus on the "opportunity costs" associated with continuing to pursue 20th century industry and commerce in the 21'st century.
What will the changing economy and demographics bring to Rutherford County? The choice is really ours. What we need is a way to more easily engage our citizens and permit them to share not only their wishes, but also, their ideas about how we should transform as we face future challenges and opportunities together!