<em>“Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores.</em>
<em>Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more.”</em>
—from the song “My Hometown”, by Bruce Springsteen.
Sandy Emile is the CEO of the Cache Chamber of Commerce. As best as I can recall I have never met her. And I will continue this polemic under the premise that she deeply cares about the vitality of businesses in Cache Valley.
Yet, I must mention two blurbs that appeared on cachevalleydaily.com that gave me pause.
<a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_26177702-2e8d-11e6-a763-3f97ef6135a1.html” target=”_blank”>”<span class=”blox-headline entry-title”>Though Logan wages appear to be low, Cache Valley’s economy is improving”</span></a>
<a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_21d26bda-371f-11e6-95ca-5f1b9cf5c9b9.html” target=”_blank”>”<span class=”blox-headline entry-title”>Target has criteria for Cache Valley to meet before setting up shop</span>”</a>
In the first story, she refutes the findings of a Pew Research report that stated Logan had some of the lowest wages in the country. In the second, she stated that the retail giant Target pretty much said Cache Valley was too dirt poor to be considered for one of their over-rated shopping centers.
Perhaps Ms. Emile speaks better than she reads. Neither of her CVD blurbs give me a good impression. Any reaction to the paltry wages that are commonplace in Cache Valley should be answered with a passion for making things better. Cache Valley does not have a diverse economy, as Ms. Emile claims. A majority of the people here live paycheck to paycheck on low waged jobs.
And that is why the Target story upsets me. It would be great to have more choices in Cache Valley for shopping. But, is that all people in a position of power and influence are trying to accomplish…getting more chain retailers?
How about trying to find manufacturers willing to open a plant? I know few of them exist. But some do. Find them! Call them!
Or how about tax incentives for smaller tech companies with a history of good wages being wooed to set up a headquarters smack in the middle of Logan?
Of course, we could try to cajole Salt Lake City legislatures to loosen liquor laws so that more restauranteurs who wish to carry spirits could make a name for themselves in this valley. But, that is just foolish! We all know the $20 bill spent on booze does not have the same monetary value as $20 spent at “family friendly” businesses.
Oh! Wait! Actually it does! And every single Sunday, I take my unwanted $20 bill to Idaho to buy things Utah deems too immoral for its residents to purchase. If I have lunch, it can be two $20 bills. Idaho loves me, and me it.
This is the problem with Utah. Too many people that are in a position of political and economic power use their persuasion as a means to wield influence as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Good business practices that contradict with Mormon dogma are ignored or disqualified on too many occasions.
So, if you are not Mormon, and you want to own a business here, you better check to make sure nothing you wish to sell is currently on the LDS Church’s “bad” list. If it is, expect grief in the process of kickstarting your business.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, Utah is highly admired for being “business friendly”. Sure it is! For retail stores that do not pay a good wage. For bill collecting agencies that know half the people in this state cannot pay every bill on time. For predatory payday loan companies that charge a higher interest rate than the Italian Mafia.
Heck, if I had the monetary collateral to open a business here that did not require me to pay high wages to employees I would do so posthaste. I can set up a death cage and let 200 prospective employees fight down to the 20 I wish to hire. We can dump the limp carcasses of the losers out back. People here are desperate for work.
Utahns should put in the maximum effort to be “worker friendly”.
It can be done. Downtown Logan does not have to be a graveyard that is barely breathing after 8 PM…and pretty much flatlined on Sundays. It takes innovative ideas put into motion by politicians and economic pioneers willing to look at something other than Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants as a playbook for revitalizing an area that is limping along aimlessly.
My intent is not to disparage the work that Ms. Emile does. I would encourage her to have someone else speak for the Cache Chamber of Commerce that can spin the obvious economic problems that exists here. Maybe after Donald Trump gets walloped in November, Ms. Emile can hire Trump’s glassy-eyed spokeswomen-cultist Katrina Pierson. Have you ever seen her on CNN being dissected daily by Wolf Blitzer? If Pierson can sell Trump as a legitimate, sane, rational choice for president, she might have a puncher’s chance of convincing the people who live and struggle in Cache Valley that we should all bob our head singing “Everything Is Awesome”.
My intent is to find out what other ideas Ms. Emile has besides trying to get another retail box store to pitch a tent here. What other businesses has she contacted? What political muscle is she willing to flex with the local city councils, the county council and Salt Lake City?
I will email Ms. Emile and ask her if she would like to rebut this column. I am fairly certain I can talk my boss into granting her the space to express what she and the Cache Chamber of Commerce is planning to do to boost our local economy. Because things are not good.
Some here may flourish, but most of us do not. Any argument I hear otherwise will have to be backed up with hard data. Too many people living here are one bad day away from financial ruination. I came up with a name for those who in these parts barely make it to the first of every month with their bills paid: Cache Strapped.
I believe there are many with influence here that are concerned about these problems. I hope they are willing to consider alternate ideas to make this area thrive. But if the best idea out there is begging Target to move here, then my faith in the leaders of Cache Valley is mislaid.