Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Is Bellingham holding out too long for the high wage jobs?

Two port commissioners have temporarily (at least) halted a hotel plan for Bellingham's Central waterfront redevelopment. Plan put forth by Harcourt Developments. These two commissioners want to hold out for the possibility of something else; higher paid industrial, rather than hotel type jobs? Bellingham's been waiting a long time, but seems like high paid business tends not to locate in this type of city anymore. Maybe we should try and make Bellingham more affordable, rather than keep waiting for those high paid jobs that don't materialize?

I've heard that, in this day and age, high paid business tends to want to cluster into major metropolitan areas. Places where there are ports with containerized cargo cranes. Big manufacturing, or information type business also wants to be close to international airport hubs and "big time" research universities like Stanford. Bellingham may be relegated to the backwater class. Low wage jobs seem inevitable. We have education, recreation and retirement, but not a major research university.

Bellingham may just have to learn to live affordably and possibly take what it can get. One of the problems is, of course, housing, in Bellingham, is getting too expensive for the local job market. This is a problem in many parts of the nation as well. In Bellingham, it's driven by our city being a popular retirement destination. Rather than creating affordable and sustainable communities, much of American culture tries to hold out for the promise of higher wage jobs. Progress is good, but pounding one's head against the wall gets old after while. As a culture, we do make progress with things like gay rights and also the new technologies, like smartphones, that become available; even available to low income folks. These technologies create high wage jobs for only a small elite of workers. Workers mostly located in select metropolitan areas. As for the rest of us, we need to stop waiting and start learning how to live with the opportunities we have. In some cases, the inexpensive opportunities.

1 comment:

Robert Ashworth said...

I just heard through the grapevine that hotel / conference center business is fairly slow in Bellingham. Already existing hotel conference centers are struggling (at least according to one friend of mine who was attending a meeting about the port and heard the discussion). There is some worry about adding a new facility into the soft market.

Yes, for jobs, it does seem like Bellingham is a backwater, but for living, Bellingham is choice.