The City of Berkeley is in big financial trouble, as we all know. There is an urgent need to boost city revenues. Growth in taxable business income can help to boost city revenues. The Office of Economic Development is supposed to help grow Berkeley's taxable business incomes.
To my great surprise I cannot find mention in any Office of Economic Development document of exports. The word literally does not occur and the concept is entirely missing from the OED's written output. How is this possible?
Nowhere in any of these writings does the OED seem the slightest bit concerned with the question of what products are produced in Berkeley and sold, in a taxable way, to buyers outside of Berkeley.
This is an important omission and I'll explain why. It matters to each and every Berkeley household!
The City's general fund comes primarily from locally collected taxes and fees.
What this means is that the expenses of running the City ultimately come from only three possible sources:
Berkeley's exports, produced by resident labor, are in fact a cornerstone of the local economy. They currently include such notable products as high quality furniture, high-end audio systems, and artisan alcoholic beverages.
One would think, given the desirable qualities of this kind of business activity and City revenue, that the Office of Economic Development would be eager to encourage and expand Berkeley's production for export.
- "Promote the tenanting of vacant retail and office space through the Locateinberkeley.com website and increase traffic to the site by 25 percent."
- "Promote the emerging incubation of co-working entities that are now operating in Berkeley and attract at least one new incubation or co-working facility to the City."
- "Work with the development community, QB2 East Bay, U.C. Berkeley, LBNL, and other stakeholders to facilitate the incubation and growth of 10 emerging Bioscience companies in West Berkeley."
And it's doubly ironic since the City's General Plan describes the economic role of the City government to be one of local business development in response to the threat of land speculation. The OED is doing the very opposite of what it is supposed to be doing!
If Berkeleyans are tired of ever-increasing taxes levied against household incomes and skeptical of the side effects of out-of-control land speculation, I think it is time they ask what the city is doing to develop the most important alternative: exports of locally produced products.