Renew Moline director responds to labelling of WIU project as "pork"
In a piece published on QC Online, Jim Bowman, former Econcomic Development director for the city of Moline and now head of Renew Moline, offers a rebuttal to a watchdog group including the WIU Moline riverfront project in their "Pork Book", a list of supposed wasteful spending by the U.S. legislature.
The new Western Illinois University Quad-Cities Riverfront Campus offers our Q-C region its best opportunity to provide young people access to affordable higher education and at the same time redefine the regional economy. And the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will nurture new high-tech businesses that will recruit and educate workers who can compete and win in a challenging global economy.Citizens Against Government Waste say that in order for an appropriation to gain mention in their "Pork Book", it must meet at least two of the following criteria:
The new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will also help our Q-C region stop the outflow of young people, whose talent and energy will be critical to our community in the years ahead. Over the last decade, the 25-34 age group declined from nearly 16 percent to 12.8 percent of the Q-C area population.
That is why I found it amazing to read that a group called Citizens against Government Waste (CAGW) listed upgrades to the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus as "pork-barrel spending."
Consider a few facts. The estimated economic impact of building the new WIU-Q-C Riverfront Campus is $10 million annually, supported by a one-time impact of $118 million during construction of the three complexes, leading to an annual economic impact of about $48 million when new academic programs support an enrollment of 3,000 students. And that doesn't count the $75 million in taxable development that will be generated from new businesses that will comprise RiverTech, a high-tech corridor along the shoreline near WIU-QC. That also will help us reinvent the QC economy, enhance our quality of life, retain young people and generate jobs and economic growth throughout the region by propelling us into emerging economies for workforce and technology development.
And that also doesn’t take into account the estimated 2,000 new jobs from companies and businesses in computer sciences, information technology, advanced manufacturing and retail office operations that will be a part of the new RiverTech corridor of development on the historic riverfront.
The CAGW didn't take into account the following key fact Ï that investing dollars into the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will yield a high rate of return to the taxpayers of this region as well as to the state and federal government. If the CAGW wants to call that "pork" then I say let's start frying the bacon.
* Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
* Not specifically authorized;
* Not competitively awarded;
* Not requested by the President;
* Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
* Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
* Serves only a local or special interest.