Saturday, May 24, 2008

If you don't build it, they won't come

I'm not sure why this story didn't get a bit more play in the media. It pertains to one of the hottest political issues of the next decade: infrastructure.

The reason Idaho has fallen so behind in investing in infrastructure, argue pundits and political junkies, is because the rurally dominated Legislature simply doesn't see the value (or direct benefit) in investing in the sorts of the things that the Treasure Valley and other growing urban areas are clamoring for: road improvements, air quality controls, and public transit, to name a few.

If this is true, rural legislators might do well to familiarize themselves with this story. The relatively small town of Buhl lost a planned $125 million dollar canola processing/biofuel plant, ostensibly due to lack of infrastructure. The president of DISCO Associates, which was the financial backer of the project, specifically cited the costs of power, water, sewer, railway and road infrastructure as the key reason for his company's decision to pull out.

The extreme "fiscal conservatives" who rule the roost at the Statehouse continue to promote their pennywise, pound-foolish ideology, compromising public safety and our economic future by neglecting to invest in infrastructure. I've written about this issue at the Idaho Business Review; I'll be posting more on this topic soon, particularly with respect to the Chamber's Regional Leadership Conference that was held last month in Sun Valley and the infrastructure concerns voiced by local and national business leaders.

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