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County Capital Improvement Plans provide a life-preserver in economic downturn

18 Aug 2022 4:36 PM | Anonymous

By Mary Dougherty

With inflation, gas prices, soaring rents, supply chain issues and costs catapulting through the roof, it was inevitable that economists were going to start talking about a recession or leveling off in the economy.  Fortunately, from everything I’ve read recently it is not expected to mimic the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 because the same factors are not at work in the economy.

I don’t want to pretend to be an economist in this article, but I am a business person and I do pay attention to economists, so from everything I’m hearing/reading we are due for some sort of leveling off.  I’m hopeful that Florida will be an outlier in whatever lies ahead.  Yet, we can’t be certain.  We need to be prepared and mitigate the effects to the best of our ability.

Lessons from the Great Recession taught those of us involved with Commercial Construction that the Capital Improvement Plan in a County is a life preserver for local construction businesses in a downturn.  When County Governments can bond these funds so that they can begin these projects sooner at presumably lower costs, they can be moved forward in the county’s plan to push work out on to the street to support local businesses.  This is exactly what counties in our region did during the recession that occurred earlier in the century.  This resulted not only in a lifeline for local businesses, but cost savings for the county government.  Additionally, these funds have a trickle down effect for other local businesses such as restaurants, insurance providers, dry cleaners and the myriad of other local businesses that these businesses and their employees utilize on a daily basis.

Keeping local projects local by hiring local General Contractors and sub- contractors is a win for the community.  Local firms hire local people and support the local economy, so we all benefit.  Local projects not only keep local businesses alive and their workers employed, but as evidenced by the project at Selby Gardens, programs can be initiated to support the training and hiring of individuals in underserved communities.  This is a win/win for the entire community.  The place you and I call home!

We can’t control what happens at the national level, but as I said above, I believe Florida may be an outlier and prosper more than the nation as a whole, but we must be prepared for any and every eventuality.

What we can control is our ability to react.  The Penny for Improvement which will be on the ballot on November 8th gives us that ability.  This is a continuation of a revenue source that Sarasota County has benefited from for over 32 years.  This isn’t anything new, but it has been and remains important for public safety, water quality, environment, traffic congestion, parks and more. 

It is important to note that over 20% of the funds are provided by tourists and visitors.  Benefits for Sarasota County residents include improved roads, police and fire safety vehicles, parks, schools, water and waste management systems and more.  Many of these projects are built by local contractors.  This benefits the entire local economy.  Sometimes when we need it most.

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