I have been asked this question a lot lately. Over the last two months, I have had the pleasure of speaking to three classes at Saginaw Valley State University and a Bay Area Chamber Leadership class. By the way, whenever I have these opportunities, I’m always impressed by the level of talent and driven individuals we have in the region.
But back to the question on the DowDupont merger – it does come up often, whether I am in the audience at an event or speaking to a class. With the events over the last two months, it was easier than ever to answer.
“It doesn’t affect me....yet.”
Even though The Times Lofts lost some great tenants who were transferred elsewhere as a result of the merger, the Lofts community has welcomed new neighbours. Overall, the developments in the pipeline are incremental and relatively stable additions to the local market. If it was a large building with 100 units, things would be more worrisome. There's safety in choosing small, incremental, growth.
But I do worry. Especially when it comes to federal policy, state programs, and major news that affect my livelihood. For example, the tax reform overhaul was a nail-biter. Historic tax credits were not in the approved bill from the House of Representative and had the Senate not fought to save this tool, historic buildings in our market likely wouldn’t be saved. That includes plans currently sitting on my desk for an old building that is begging for a new beginning. New Market Tax Credit allocations were another tool that almost didn’t make it – and these have played a role in the Dow Bay Area YMCA and SVRC Marketplace.
“All development issues are local.”
It’s backwards to think that national issues don’t affect developers as much as local issues do. That is backwards. When hurricanes hit the United States, I’m consumed with analyzing construction timetables and making sure materials are ordered before prices go up. I cannot afford to pay 150% for steel or drywall on a rehab with eight layers of financing in the capital stack. I was also thankful my project had been bid out and subcontractors (who are busier than ever) were already committed.
The DowDupont merger may be more likely to affect me in 5-10 years, depending on the levels of growth the region does, or doesn’t, achieve. In the meantime, I can do so much to make this region great in the ways I know how. By increasing quality and sense of place. By rehabbing and bringing new life to old buildings. By encouraging entrepreneurship.
Policies and administrations may strip some of the economic development tools needed for this work. Or, maybe they will create some new tools. Regardless, I’ll be here advocating for the strongest, research-proven programs to continue revitalizing our region. And I’ll remain optimistic that the DowDupont merger will also improve both my livelihood and the region’s vitality. The question is, who’s with me?