First, I'm going to try to avoid tax abatements. Our empty Walmart building is one example of what happens with tax abatements. A major corporation gets a handout, then they open a new store down the road when the handout runs out. If you want to be part of our city, you have to participate, and that means no more tax breaks for corporate giants.
With that said, there are a number of things we can do, and the Midway redevelopment plan is a great start. I also think it's important to encourage a sense of ownership in the city, which means respecting and lifting up small business owners and potential entrepreneurs in our city.
One way to do that is to make sure building owners are compelled to make decisions in the interest of the city. I know from my own experience that many downtown storefronts are either priced artificially way over market rates or the owners flat-out don't return calls of interest. With every passing year, these buildings deteriorate and it becomes more expensive to potentially move someone in.
Another big issue is that our city is gradually getting older, population is shifting east, and employers are having a tougher time finding skilled workers. Bendix said as much when they announced their move. They had been asking how the city could attract Millennials, and the response was to offer them a tax break.
You attract Millennials by making your city bike and pedestrian friendly, enhancing public transit, creating a safe and fun nightlife, having more craft and boutique businesses, and embracing progressive change... even symbolic things like renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day gives our city a forward-looking culture that we need to attract tomorrow's workforce (and entrepreneurs).
Finally, I believe our city needs a great coworking space for remote workers to come together and collaborate. Having worked from my home office (and coffee shops and beyond) for most of the last eight years, a city with coworking space is very appealing to the growing remote workforce in our country, and with the right resources and marketing, we could position our city as a winner for remote workers due to low cost of living and local amenities.