by Kenneth Dobson
Tax Base Transformation/Diversification and Triple Green Bottom Line
As we go deeper into in the technology-driven 21st century global marketplace, we are beginning to discover that the gold standard for local economic development competitiveness and valuation is becoming its capacity to facilitate sustainable tax base revenue growth.
Sustainable tax base revenue growth will occur through the convergence and integration of diverse functions associated with triple green bottom line technologies, techniques, tools and strategies. By triple green bottom line, reference is simply being made to the growing importance of cultivating an organically conducive investment climate within which sustainable flows of revenue-generation/jobs-
The primary focus is centered on the integration of key factors associated with the triple green bottom line including (a) economic/fiscal + (b) environmental/energy + (c) investment/return-on-
The strategic, integrative packaging of diminishing and categorical sources of public funds to leverage private investments is of extreme importance: given the prospects of long-term governmental debt and deficit legislative actions in motion, particularly at the federal government level. Consequently, it is essential to maximize the leveraging of diminishing federal, state and local funding sources. Those associated with energy, environment, employment, economic development and others form the core of the strategic integration equation. Such convergence and integration represent another critical function of the triple green bottom line approach. From a sustainable local economic development perspective, it allows and encourages professionals and practitioners to do more with less while doing it in more cleaner, greener, cost effective, and sustainable way.
The triple green bottom line can best be achieved through local and regional forms of collaborative engagements, strategic alliances and partnerships with various impactful communities. It is of critical importance to intensify the nurturing engagement of our traditional public, private, labor and education communities. However, there are many new communities or ecosystems emerging in the 21st century technology-driven global marketplace with whom it is equally essential to cultivate triple green bottom line sustainable economic development relationships. These newly emerging 21st century communities include the technology, energy, environmental, creative working class and several other communities. It is critical that they be factored into the sustainable economic development equation, blueprint and process in order to facilitate sustainable tax base revenue-generation and jobs-creation.
The use of the triple green bottom line, here from a fiscally sustainable local economic development perspective, is a derivative from the term triple bottom line (TBL) coined by John Elkington in 1994 (www.economist.com/code/
The Greening of the Local Tax Base Equals Clean Sustainable Revenue Growth for All
Every town, city, county and metropolitan area within every state of the union is desirous of achieving some increased measure of accelerated tax base revenue growth, fiscal stability, economic prosperity and sustainability. This is necessary even while recovering from the latest fiscal collapses or near collapses resulting from the recent great recession of 2006-2008.
For some, the primary challenge is to avoid or overcome economic and fiscal austerity conditions. For many other municipalities, the primary challenge is to achieve an acceptable level of economic and fiscal stability. There is also another group of jurisdictions that enjoy a relative degree of economic growth, fiscal stability and prosperity; but are challenged by the desire to insure their sustainability at a very high level of performance.
Each level of economic and fiscal challenges requires a certain level of economic growth sufficient to drive revenue generation to achieve the respective fiscal goals and objectives. In certain situations, the level or rate of economic growth output generated totally by the domestic economy may be sufficient. Therefore, supplemental revenue generation from local or regional economic development efforts may not be required, or at least, not at urgently high levels.
However, in certain other cases, the fiscal imbalances between revenues and expenses of the municipality may find that the national share of the domestic economy’s output are insufficient to meet their local fiscal needs. Consequently, they are now facing major budget imbalance challenges with many attendant economic, fiscal, public service and quality of life consequences. In these instances, a new approach to economic development may be required to generate enough sustained supplemental tax base revenue growth to solve the fiscal problem.
A major challenge for local jurisdictions and their local economic development delivery systems is the implementation of new ways and means of reversing the erosion of the existing local tax base. In order to complete the process, the old, unsustainable tax base must be incrementally replaced by new, more sustainable tax base revenue-growth solutions.
Conditions Precedent: Green Fiscal Deficiencies: 20th Century Carry-Forward Practices
The traditional unsustainable short-term (year-to-year) approaches to fiscal problem-solving have generally focused either on (1) use of various creative accounting and book keeping techniques; (2) increasing the sources and/or amount of paid taxes to their statutory or political acceptable elastic limits, if necessary; (3) borrow funds to assist in meeting fiscal obligations; and/or (4) balance the budget through routine cuts to governmental functions, staffs, essential public, human and social services.
The unintended consequences of all of this is to reduce the quality of life for residents, often to unacceptable levels, and/or to put existing tax-paying businesses in growth squeezes; thus, causing jurisdictions to often be viewed unfavorably, unattractive and unappealing from a new business recruitment and attraction perspective. The cumulative effect is to place growth restrictions on the jurisdiction that can severely limit it from ever realizing its true economic and prosperity potentials. Seldom, has there been a high sense of urgency to begin the process of growing new revenues as a part of fiscal problem-solving.
It is important that this be done, even as individual municipalities struggle from stagnant local tax bases, as a result of the recovery efforts from the great recession. It is extremely important that certain areas of the jurisdiction(s) be targeted based on the need for exponential economic growth.
However, the high performance 21st century technology-driven global economy is bringing into realization a whole new stream of economic and fiscal growth consciousness for towns, cities and counties throughout America. In these changing times, there could not be a better time to re-evaluate, recalibrate, recalculate and re-invigorate regional economies and local tax bases.
Those old fiscal and economic development approaches to tax base revenue-generation are no longer viable or productive enough to meet escalating public service demands. Change in how towns, cities, and counties deal with fiscal revenue growth challenges is no longer optional. Change in the relationship between the fiscal revenue-generation needs of local governments and sustainable sources of tax base revenue-generation are now a 21st century necessity. The need now exists to go beyond where we have already been in local economic development/tax base revenue-generation relationships.
The New Green Geography and Geometry
Within every town, city, county, metropolitan area or state, there are pieces of history and geography which have concealed unique historical assets of the jurisdiction during the course of the old industrial revolution era. They are waiting to be discovered, revealed, eometrically and functionally connected, and traded on the new technology-driven 21st century growth marketplace platform.
There are two different levels of the sustainable tax base revenue-generation equation of significance to the economic development process in this technology-driven 21st century global economy.
First, internally capturing and maximizing sustainable tax base revenue-growth opportunities and potentials of each individual jurisdiction within a particular region. Even in the infinite universal spatial dimensions of the technology-driven 21st century global marketplace, real-time “urban places” and their main streets, downtowns and neighborhoods still matters. The importance of these unique urban assets must be preserved, elevated and magnified several times over. Secondly, there is increased attention to collaborative engagements and partnerships with external neighboring jurisdictions on a regional level. The new breed of urbanregional economic development delivery systems have the capacity to function on a much higher, stronger and more globally recognized business attraction and revenue-generating platform.
Urbanregion: The Most Sustainable Economic and Fiscal Growth Platform in the 21st Century Global Economy
Urbanregions are made up of a collection of individual urban places: towns, cities and counties situated within a region or metropolitan area that work functionally, interactively and interdependently in a more organized manner, together as a single unit for common benefit of all. This functionality is to be contrasted by a collection of individual urban places: towns, cities and counties that happen to be located in a defined region or metropolitan areas that do not function very well together as a single unit. The most competitive urbanregions are designed, promoted, developed and operated as high performing world-class engines of sustainable tax base growth.
Urbanregions are designed to be single, unified geographic engines of targeted, concentrated and sustainable technology-driven economic growth. Their functionality can be of a mixed-use, multi-nodal, multi-modal, and multi-jurisdictional nature with fixed infrastructural assets. These assets are profoundly anchored or influenced by physical, environmental, ecological, economic or intellectual capital. Urbanregional economic development occurs when these jurisdictions work together, interrelated and interactively, for both increased economic and fiscal benefits, individually and collectively.
Sustainable urbanregional economic development occurs with the integration of these interrelated and interdependent functions, resources and dynamics associated with sustainable triple green bottom line applications. The strategic application of which will facilitate sustainable transactional flows of revenue-generating and jobs-creating business and real estate investment/development transactions over a long, sustained period of time. It functions as an essential revenue-generating public purpose, working in the public interest and for the public good. Thus, sustaining the urbanregional tax base.
The sustainable economic and fiscal growth of the local tax base is predicated on concentrated efforts by a jurisdiction(s) to fuel exponential supplemental revenue-generation and jobs-creation growth over a long period of time. Increasingly, the emerging trend is to geographically target sub-urbanregional areas for concentrated applications of the triple green bottom line. The strategy is to organically grow increased supplemental tax base revenue as an integral part of the fiscal solution.
The sustainable urbanregional economic growth quilt is knitted or weaved together into one urbanregional piece of diversified, high quality and highly competitive economic growth fabric. A fabric that is capable of attracting major business and real estate investment and development prospects from the highly-competitive global marketplace.
The geographic and geometric configuration of a targeted area for concentrated sustainable tax base growth may be around major assets within a given jurisdiction or may encompass major assets between multiple jurisdictions. These concentrated target areas are designated for particular high-value, high-growth and high-demand areas of sustainable industry sectors driven by specific technology, business and education magnets. The geographic boundaries which delineate the areas of targeted concentration may be influenced by natural or man-made assets or some combination thereof.
There are several different flexible geometric shapes that may apply to this urbanregional approach based on the spatial distribution, morphology and histories of each of the participating cities and other important factors. Urbanregions designed for strategic economic growth purposes may take several different geographic or functional forms including clusters, districts, parks, corridors or zones, etc. They may also take various geometric forms including those that are more circular, triangular, etc. As you will notice, the configuration in our case along Highway 29 is more or less a curvilinear configuration which extends some 25 miles and connects seven different small cities.
Eco-Industrial Development: Sustainable Tax Base Transformation and Diversification
The formula or calculus for growing the local tax base exponentially, using the sustainable triple green bottom line approach within a particular jurisdiction, is directly related to regional dynamics. These dynamics include its functional connectivity, interrelationships, competitive advantages and the global positioning strategies within the region to the global marketplace platform.
However, there is a strong technology component to local and regional economic growth, in the 21st century technology-driven marketplace, that must be factored into the tax base transformation and diversification strategies. The evolution of these new scientific and emerging technological discoveries has the potential to facilitate unlimited sustainable economic growth and expansion of the urbanregional tax base of each area.
Within the context of the triple green bottom line, the focus should be on setting into motion powerful economic development strategies and processes at both the local and regional levels. Decision-making should represent the highest degree of competitiveness and performance on both the national and global scales.
Sustainable 21st century local tax base growth strategies should also focus on the strategic integration of emerging sustaining or
disruptive technologies into the existing local business mix. Additionally, priority should also be placed on globally-competitive strategies to recruit and attract sustainable businesses to the targeted cluster identified for the area. Of equal importance are the retention, expansion and greening of the existing businesses and industries within the jurisdiction. The entire process is driven by the principles of the triple green bottom line.
This concept utilizes and emphasizes the application of strategic approaches to marketing, recruitment and attraction of major technology-based businesses and industries into designated geographic sub-regions. It can be contrasted with the traditional one piece of geography within which several cities happen to be situated.
It is this sense of cooperative-competition within two or more neighboring jurisdictions, with a defined urbanregion or sub-areas, to work jointly together to grow the regional economic proverbial “pie” so that they might each receive a larger economic and fiscal slice from it. The sustainable urbanregional economic development approach urges a high degree of functional integration and compatibility. The evidence of this compatibility should be between the particular new tech-driven business and industry sectors that the jurisdiction chooses to specialize in relationship to the existing local industry mix.
The goal here is to determine and accommodate the best “goodness of fit” between the two dynamics, as possible, with each participating jurisdiction and the highest and best growth potential match for the region as a whole. Each community self-defines its competitive economic growth advantages, priorities and needs with appropriate technical and management support services from the facilitating team and its consultants and advisers.
Triple Green Bottom Line Impacts Equals Integrated and Shared Economic and Fiscal Growth Benefits
Participating Beneficiaries: Sustainable Urbanregional Economic Development:
• Major Economic Boost to Business and Industry Attraction to the Urbanregional Economy;
• Major Economic Boost to Business and Industry Retention, Expansion & Growth in the Urbanregional Economy;
• CleanTech/GreenTech – Major Boost to Cleaner and Greener Economies and Communities Environmentally;
• Organic Fiscal Growth and Expansion of the Tax Base Revenue-Generation for Individual Participating Cities within the Region;
• Major Net New Jobs Creation= Primary, Secondary and Tertiary;
• Major Increases in Disposable Spending Income, Bank Accounts and Savings;
• Major Boost to the Community Sense of Purpose, Pride and Working Together Behavior;
• Major Boost to Individual Sense of Net-Worth and Self-Worth;
• Major Boost to the Local Capacity to leverage and Induce Additional Spin-off Business and Real Estate Development; and
• Major Boost to the Process of Joint Collaboration, Engagement, Strategic Alliances and Partnerships.