Casey Anderson, the Chairman of the Planning Board, is writing a enlightening series of posts on the economics and trends that affect Montgomery County on The Third Place. Two recent ones are important enough that I want to repost them on the Friends of White Flint blog today and tomorrow.
This first one is titled, Real Estate Development *Is* Infrastructure. You can read some of its more salient points below, but it is worth grabbing your favorite snack and reading the entire post.
If the supply of housing does not keep up with even modest growth in jobs and population, residents who don’t have much choice about where to live and work will get squeezed hardest while residents who have skills that are most in demand elsewhere (who also tend to get paid more and therefore pay more in taxes) may consider taking a job in a place where they can get more and better housing for their money.
The people whose choices of work location are constrained tend to have fewer skills that command a premium in wages, but this is not uniformly true – for example, people who work for trade associations, think tanks, law and lobbying firms, and other employers oriented around the nation’s capital might not find jobs that suit their skills in Pittsburgh, Austin or Raleigh. On the other hand, if we want to diversify away from reliance on government as the foundation of our job base we need to draw and retain people (and employers) who aren’t tied to the government, such as computer scientists or biologists. In this instance, the relative cost of living (driven largely by housing) is highly relevant to our competitiveness.
That’s why real estate development is essential to what most people think of as economic development, i.e., the ability to encourage employers to bring high quality jobs to Montgomery County. The point is that real estate development is infrastructure. Whether it involves construction of housing, office buildings, or for that matter retail space, real estate development supports economic activity directly and indirectly by serving basic human needs, i.e., creating places for people to live and work (not to mention to get a haircut, visit a doctor, have their clothes dry cleaned or put their kids in day care).
Read Casey Anderson’s entire blog post here.