McLoughlin: How to beat them at their own game
A friend of mine, Freddie the Ironworker, has come up with a very beautiful idea.
Freddie, now retired from ironworking, has decided to apply to Metroplex for a grant of several thousand dollars to secure new, vinyl siding for his fairly modest split-level in Rotterdam.
“Key to the whole thing,” according to Freddie the Ironworker (FTI), “is to allow as how you might be moving out of the county … unless. No threats, but you gotta make ’em think you’re gonna move out unless they come up with the cash.”
He got this beautiful idea several days ago, when he read that Metroplex would be making a grant of $210,000 to a company called Transfinder to get them to move their operation from one place in the city to another, where they will spend several millions redoing the building.
According to reports, Transfinder had been considering the possibility of moving out of Schenectady, but now “expects” or “hopes” to double its payroll to about 125 taxpaying employees at its new, downtown location.
“Yeah, and I’m telling ’em I expect and hope to have 27 children in the very near future and we will all be God-fearing, sales tax-paying citizens, if only they will buy some vinyl for us,” Freddie said, “and I have dropped hints, not threats, but hints, that Watervliet or Corinth could be in our future otherwise.”
FTI said he had read in the past about Metroplex giving grants to places like the Parker Inn or the Van Dyck Restaurant, but he always thought they were typos. “I mean, who’s gonna give away other peoples’ money to a gin mill, huh? A boutique little hotel right next to Proctors, now that sounds like a sure thing, cannot miss; you even wonder why other people did not think of it themselves, using their own money. But a gin mill, I had my doubts.”
But last week, Freddie read all about Transfinder and its move across town, and he decided there can only be so many misprints, so now he’s coming for his, even though he does not fully understand the highly complicated business of economic development.
“Strikes me like that story about the Prodigal,” says Freddie. “You know, where the kid who ditches his family gets all the swag when he comes home, but the one who hung in there gets diddly. Or maybe it’s the Loaves and the Fishes, where nobody knows how they do it, but everybody goes away fat and happy.”
No use explaining to Freddie the importance of Metroplex and economic development to the future of downtown Schenectady.
It must be important, or otherwise they would not be using that most regressive of taxes, sales tax, to move businesses from one place in town to another, a sales tax that falls much more unevenly on the incomes of people who live in Hamilton Hill than it does on the residents of Niskayuna.
Anyway, he has sworn me to secrecy on this one. “Word gets out and boom! There’s a run on the bank. All of a sudden, every shopkeeper and homeowner in Schenectady County is threatening to move, and Metroplex can’t hand out the cash fast enough.”
But, the way I figure it, when the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hears about Freddie’s very beautiful idea and gives him one of their half-million dollar genius awards, secrecy is out the vinyl-clad window anyway.