Here’s Downtown Management District Executive Director Joe Gudenrath blowing all his credibility and what’s left of his integrity to support the downtown arena. From the El Paso Times:
The arena and other quality of life bond projects are not simply meant to give us a place to have a concert or watch an indoor football game, but are investments in our community meant to improve El Paso’s competiveness in attracting jobs, investment, and talent to our city and consequently build our tax base.
Over the last five years, thousands of El Paso youth have graduated from high school and felt pressure to leave El Paso to pursue employment or educational opportunities in cities providing the amenities and environment that appeals to them. Thousands of young professionals have graduated from UTEP and looked to other cities for opportunities they cannot find here.
Thousands of private sector companies across the nation have made decisions about where to locate their headquarters or build new facilities, and even with some success, El Paso has either lost or never been considered by many more because we cannot compete with our peer cities on a number of factors.
Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Of course the biggest reason we can’t attract outside businesses is because we don’t have an educated workforce, and a downtown arena won’t solve that problem. In fact, if we were to take that $180 million and invest in worker education, El Paso would be a lot better off.
Even more obvious is the fact that the millions of dollars authorized for these projects have yet to be invested into our economy. We’ve gone years without the construction jobs needed to build the facilities (estimated at $176 million); we’ve been unable to access tax rebates available to other Texas cities (estimated to be in the millions annually); the jobs and economic benefits produced by the ongoing operations of the facilities (estimated at 1,480 jobs and $39 million annually) have yet to be realized; and all of the potential private sector investment in the form of complementary projects in the downtown and surrounding areas (hundreds of millions) is being threatened by this lack of progress.
Wait a minute. Where are the millions of dollars authorized for those projects coming from? Aren’t those tax dollars? Aren’t those dollars coming out of the pockets of the taxpayers and going into the bank accounts of the developers, contractors, and real estate speculators?
That’s not new money. That’s our money. Joe Gudenrath and the Downtown Management District want us to believe that we’d be better off it they were spending it instead of us spending it.