Stuck on Stupid — and Millennials


Dot coms. Stem-cell research. Nanotech. Film productions. Spaceports. Millennials.

Bureaucrats charged with fostering “economic development” fall for fads at a faster clip than teen girls. Look no further than Friday’s Albuquerque Business First. In an interview with reporter Blake Driver, Albuquerque Economic Development’s Ray Smith endorsed the creation of “a tax-defferred [sic] district in Downtown Albuquerque” as a means to “spur investment both in businesses and housing and help us create an environment that would allow us to retain and return our millenials [sic] to New Mexico.”

Smith’s recognition that it’s jobs, rather than “coolness,” that draws young adults, is admirable — and frequently missing in most discussions of tools to attract the cohort. As the Foundation noted this summer, economic opportunities count for much more than growers markets and poetry slams.

But why should downtown Albuquerque be the focus for “investment both in businesses and housing”? As was the case with their generational forebears, Millennials are headed to the suburbs. (Scholar Wendell Cox, examining the latest figures from the American Community Survey, found that “contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans continue to disperse,” with “virtually no ‘return to the city.'”) Shouldn’t the entire metro area, and not a favored portion, be made attractive to economic development? And wouldn’t doing so benefit entrepreneurs, workers, and taxpayers of all ages? (Even old-timers who, like, remember the 1980s?)