Community complacency is a momentum killer

Feb 17, 2015 | Uncategorized

Community complacency.

That’s the answer I recently gave to someone asking what I worry about.

Not one hour after that exchange, I got a call from a Denver Post reporter regarding Fort Collins’ sixth-place place ranking by NerdWallet as an innovative tech hub. Using their methodology, on a per capita basis, Fort Collins is a better techie hub than Austin, Texas, and Boston.

This is the latest in a long string of aren’t-we-great stories that goes back for years. While every city, town and village in America touts its great quality of life, it’s actually true for us. We have made our good fortune by years of hard work and good leadership.

But as fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus once said, “Human prosperity does not abide long in one place.”

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the seeds of decline are sown in the fruits of success. When you reach the pinnacle, it’s natural to rest and assume the journey is done. A sense of complacency can set in that will keep you from doing what’s needed for ongoing success.

Some of that complacency is evident with a few Fort Collins City Council members who believe city government has done enough already to support job creation. They want to weaken economic development programs and regulate and fee the dickens out of businesses, big and small.

Yet, per capita income continues to drift downward, and we are seventh in the nation in underemployment. We might be doing relatively well according to some rankings, but do you feel it in your family budget and job security? Are your neighbors and children all gainfully employed to the fullest of their abilities?

This is relevant and timely with the April 7 city council elections looming. Every election cycle all candidates declare their support for a healthy local economy. Once elected, however, many set about adopting policies and regulations that are just the opposite.

Pay special attention over the next seven weeks to what candidates are saying. Listen with a critical ear. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you read campaign literature and listen to candidates:

  • Does the candidate understand what primary companies are — small and large companies that export at least 50 percent of their services or goods outside the market and import money? Does this candidate support policies to attract and keep such companies in Fort Collins? Does s/he really understand why that is important?
  • If so, what is this candidate’s specific plan for economic development?
  • Will this candidate support policies to maintain our publicly owned utilities and keep rates reasonable?
  • Is this candidate trustworthy? Is he or she forthcoming about beliefs or being evasive and deceptive?
  • Will this person support maintaining and improving the street infrastructure?

Fort Collins is at a time of reckoning as we decide to continue forward or slam on the brakes. Complacency means going backwards, and it takes a long time to recover when that happens. This great community deserves better.

Column originally published by The Fort Collins Coloradoan February 12, 2015