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BBA Economic Digest: What is Rural?

What is Rural? For many of us, rural is an abstract concept. We think of farmland and forests. It’s a feeling that we get, knowing that we are out in the country. We know rural when we see it. Not surprisingly, the U.S. government has multiple official definitions of “rural,” applying to different programs, often determining which local governments are eligible for rural-aid money. (A Washinton Post story in 2013 identified 15 different federal definitions of rural.) The U.S. Census Bureau does not actually define “rural.” Rather, it says that whatever is not considered urban -- and it gives two definitions of that -- is considered rural. The first is "urbanized areas," which have a po

BBA Economic Digest: The Threat of Irrelevance

The Threat of Irrelevance As many local governments face substantial tax revenue shortfall, I suspect we're going to see more economic development positions and perhaps even entire departments eliminated. Witness Adrian, Michigan, where the city commission recently voted to eliminate the city’s economic development coordinator position held by Chris Miller since 2010. The commission intends to reallocate the funds and hire a second code enforcement officer in Mr. Miller's stead. The cut came as Adrian, along with municipalities around the state, grapple with what is expected to be a shortfall in state revenue. Mr. Miller called the decision “stunning” and said he was notified July 2. “It was

BBA Economic Digest: Time Will Tell

Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash Time Will Tell In last week's Digest, I told you about Peter Rex, a billionaire CEO who was the process of moving his company Rex Teams from Seattle to Austin. Rex made some rather inflamatory comments, at least to some, when he said he was making the move because Seattle had "become hostile to the principles and policies that enable people to live abundantly in the broadest sense." Read into that obtuse quote what you want, but I have to think that the cost of doing business played a key role. That said, the Seattle City Council last week passed what it calls a "JumpStart Tax," which is a payroll tax on the city's biggest businesses, including Amazon. Un

BBA Economic Digest: A CEO Creates a Stir

Photo by Florence Jones on Unsplash A CEO Creates a Stir It was one man's opinion, but his comments went viral after initally appearing in the Wall Street Journal under the headline, "I’m Leaving Seattle for Texas So My Employees Can Be Free." Peter Rex, founder and CEO of Rex Teams, wrote said he tried San Francisco and Seattle and found them to be "hostile to the principles and policies that enable people to live abundantly in the broadest sense." "By the end of the year, I hope to move dozens of employees to the Lone Star State and to be ready to hire hundreds more," Rex wrote. While Mr. Rex's views may regarded as extreme (or not) by some they are not uncommon. Others have contended that

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