In Bigger is not always better, a column published Thursday in the Morrison County Record, Representative Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) writes:
Minnesota has become a battleground in the debate over the size of government.
On one side there is the battle cry for more government intervention into our economy and everyday lives, as we’ve seen over the past two years during one-party control in St. Paul. . . .
On the other side is the argument for efficient and effective government that is limited and less expensive. . . .
Government should be preparing people to enter the business sector and then get out of the way as much as possible.
If we continue improving in the area of education and put a stop to this unsustainable growth in government, the best is yet to come for Minnesota.
I believe we can either have a robust, booming economy fueled by innovators or we can have a flat economy subsidized by the government and ultimately the taxpayers. Personally, I am a risk-taker shooting for new heights. [emphasis added]
Given that interjection in a column that is otherwise largely Republican boilerplate, Bluestem grew curious about Kresha's profession. His legislative web page lists his occupation as "chief executive officer." The bio on his campaign website notes that he's the CEO of Golden Shovel; he founded Atomic Learning, after serving asTechnology Director/Curriculum Coordinator for the Pierz School District.
What's Golden Shovel? According to its website:
Welcome to Golden Shovel Agency. We build and manage economic development websites across Greater America. We have two services:
Award winning economic development websites with all the necessary tools, customized to highlight your region and assets to site selectors and businesses.
We provide social media and website management service to set goals, create original content and publish it on your economic development website and social media tools.
For more than 45 years northeast South Dakota counties have been served by GROW South Dakota and its community action programs. Consistent, reliable, services have been evolving to fit the needs of local individual, families and business owners in order to improve the quality of life for low-income and rural communities.
Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program (NESDCAP) was established in 1966 servicing three counties. The program evolved from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 legislation to fight “a war on poverty.” Funded by federal, state and local money the non-profit agency opened its doors to provide ways and means to help low-income individuals and families become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life. NESDCAP expanded to serve seven additional counties in 1974 and seven more counties in 2001 bringing the total service area to 17 counties in northeast South Dakota.
In an effort to stimulate business ownership, business development and job creation in low income and rural communities the Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation (NESDEC) was established in 1978 and served 10 counties. . . .
And there's this Incentives Directory at Advantage South Dakota, a Golden Shovel client, which links to local and state government loan funds.
On the Golden Shovel blog, there's this item, Wisconsin’s Voice for Economic Development to Host Economic Gateway, that document's another client:
Eau Claire GIS firm Applied Data Consultants, Inc. (ADC), and Minnesota Web development firm Golden Shovel Agency will present Economic Gateway during the Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s (WEDA) 2011 Governor’s Conference on Economic Development Feb. 9-11 at Monona TerraceCommunity and Convention Center in Madison. . . .
WEDA is a 450+ member statewide organization whose primary objective is to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of the state’s economic development by encouraging cooperation, exchange of information and promotion of professional skills.WEDA’s 2011 Governor’s Conference Be Bold Wisconsin: Building Business is recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) as professional development training that counts towards recertification of Certified Economic Developers (CEcD). Governor Scott Walker will outline his administration’s major economic development policy initiatives, and plans to promote Wisconsin as being “Open for Business.” . . .
Many of Golden Shovel's clients are rural electrical co-operatives, for which Kresha's firm built economic development portals, which also include resources like the Incentives Directory and Resource Directory for the Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc. These incentives and resources directories include links to USDA grant and loan programs and the IRRRB, a "a unique State of Minnesota economic development agency . . ."
Kresha obviously doesn't want government (or at least those government loans and other incentives) to get out of the way along with the rest of government once kids are educated. Is there a downside to economic development agencies (which often have little direct accountability to the citizens in their communities)? Governing magazine's Mark Funkhouser writes in How to Stop the Economic Development Wars:
For several decades we have been conducting an economic-policy experiment in state and local governments, and now it's time to stop the testing because the results are clear: The dominant paradigm, incentive-fueled competition among these governments, does not create economic prosperity.
Two big facts confirm this conclusion. First, as the New York Times reported last December, states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies in tax breaks, outright cash payments, and buildings and worker training. Second, the wages of the taxpayers who have been footing the bill for this stuff have been flat since at least 1979. . ..
Kresha's "risk-taking at shooting for new heights" seems propelled in part by government loans/grants and co-op ratepayers. Imagine that.
Photo: Representative Ron Kresha,
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