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Humboldt County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

The case for High Tech in Arcata

By Gregory P. Allen

Candidate for Green Party County Council; County of Humboldt

This information is provided by the candidate
For Arcata's local economy to flourish, wages in Arcata need to increase. With tourism insufficient to the task, Greg believes Arcata must become a center for technology development to generate high wages and more revenues for city programs.
Anyone who has purchased food from a grocery store, bought gas, looked for housing or paid their energy bills knows we have entered another cycle of inflation. Everything seems to, and generally does, cost more than last year.

Historically, wages have always been slow in keeping up with inflation, and today this is certainly the case. Everything costs more, but wages and salaries have not kept pace.

Arcata is entering a new and devastating era of inflation, and we are already seeing that tax revenues are decreasing for the city, severely impacting the budget for police, parks, recreation and other services. For the city, everything is costing more and revenues are decreasing.

Revenues from sales tax are declining severely because our residents have had comparatively less money to spend with local businesses because of the effects of inflation.

For Arcata's local economy to flourish, wages in Arcata need to increase. Many have cited tourism as the cure for our economic problems. Sadly, this is simply not true. While tourism does provide revenue and jobs, most of the jobs tourism provides are in the service sector. Generally these jobs are low paying minimum wage jobs. Sure, we want and need these jobs, but at prevailing wage standards, they are more suitable as part-time jobs for students, then to support oneself or to support a family. Being willing to work hard is simply not enough.

In Arcata we need more higher-paying jobs, and our present industries and business are unable to provide them. What we need then are new industries and employers who can.

Arcata's economic future is as a center for technology.

Because of our remote location, we are not well suited for heavy manufacturing as shipping large items from here would tend to be prohibitively expensive. Moreover, these industries are frequently "dirty" industries which are inconsistent with Arcata's commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.

I believe Arcata needs to attract industries in the development sector. I suggest that the best fit would be in software and/or sustainable energy technology. These industries are clean because their product is technology development, not corporate goods. In general the environmental effect of these industries is negligible.

Most importantly is the economic effect of these industries, higher wages. Key employees both managerial and technical will probably be imported, and few will have any prior connections with this area. On the other hand, the clerical, maintenance and construction jobs will certainly go to local employees. It is worth noting that we have many talented programmers here, and some of them would be needed by these technical industries.

Even if these new technology companies pay appreciably less than in Silicon Valley, these employees will be getting salaries and benefits surpassing or at least comparable to those paid by our best local employers. These are jobs which in marked contrast to many local employers would pay a living wage to blue and pink collar workers. Since health benefits are usually offered by these employers, we would see less drain on local demand for medical services by the uninsured.

The economy of the city of Arcata needs our local money supply to become larger so that there is more money locally in circulation. For the local money supply to grow, we need funds from outside our local economic ecosystem. It is these technology employers who can provide the jobs and monies needed to feed our local economy.

When people have money to spend, they tend to spend it where they live. More people spending more money locally translates to more demand for local goods and services, and usually more jobs. Our local businesses benefit greatly if our local population has more money to spend on goods and services. This is called the multiplier effect, and the benefits run to the entire local population. We all benefit by having more money circulation in our local economy.

A major beneficiary of this economic boon is the City itself. A larger sales tax base means more revenues for city programs and expenses.

As a member of the Arcata City Council I will work hard to attract the sort of employers who will pay higher wages and fit in with our community.

I can be reached at my website, .

Greg Allen is a practicing attorney, Chairman of the Green Party of Humboldt County and a board member of the ACLU Redwood Chapter and the ACLU Northern California Affiliate in San Francisco.

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