TAPinto Paterson has invited all candidates for Mayor and City Council to offer statements on several key issues related to the future of Paterson. These submissions will be run in their entirety and not edited in any way.
Following is community activist, teacher, entrepreneur and council hopeful, Zellie Thonas’ views on economic development.
Economic inequality is growing - the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.
26% of all Paterson residents are below the national poverty level. Research shows that poverty is a strong driver for violent offending amongst young people. In order to decrease violent crime, we need to increase the amount of living wage jobs, and ensuring our most at risk residents have access to them.
When done correctly, economic development might bring our community more jobs, a larger tax base, and greater prosperity. Families might enjoy better goods and public services. Children might enjoy better schools and better funded recreation. Yet, when economic development only benefits a few and not the majority the wealth gap increases and our city suffers.
In order to create the safe and thriving community that we all deserve to live in, policies for economic development must place the people of Paterson in the center. The path to prosperity must not be so narrow that only some can access, but must be widened so that everyone has the access to resources to sustain themselves.
Our policies must be reflective of our values and commitment to the people of Paterson.
-Including Community Benefit Agreements as part of the economic development process ensures that new growth serves the needs of local residents, not just the needs of developers.
-Implementing a Performance-Based Incentives Program. A company does not get a tax credit or other negotiated benefit until it hits targets, such as creating a certain number of jobs, that have been specified in a negotiated agreement.
-Repurposing vacant city property to establish business incubators and innovation hubs throughout the city.
-Exploring opportunities to provide incentives and resources for local residents to create cooperatives, or employee owned businesses.
We build strong communities when we help to build strong people. Strong, progressive leadership moves us towards an inclusive society. Strong, progressive leadership will move our city forward, and not just some of us, but all of us.
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