Possibilities on the prairie are profound

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Development of the freshly minted “Tech URD” in Post Falls is going to cause some grief.

For those who see the beauty in a swath of barren prairie, disappointment is assured. It will be replaced with concrete, steel and glass over time.

Traffic is an ever-growing headache that at best can be tolerated. It’s hard to imagine that it will ever be better than it is today.

Grief? Yes. But on Tuesday night, the Post Falls City Council chose wisely in unanimously creating the 831-acre Technology Urban Renewal District.

Respectfully acknowledging the concerns many citizens have about our area’s steady growth and worries that it will outstrip infrastructure — legitimate considerations — here’s why the council’s decision makes sense.

Through the urban renewal district, business will be the focus, with technology enterprises targeted for center stage. While nobody can predict exactly what shape that will take — competition for tech companies is ferocious — early estimates suggest thousands of jobs will be created through the URD. How many of those will be high-pay, great-benefit jobs vs. more moderate service-sector jobs is impossible to say. But creating a desirable place for good companies to relocate or expand is the first step in attracting them.

It’s also important to remember that unlike single-family neighborhoods sprouting up and spreading out, there’s a big benefit to taxpayers in a business boom. Studies show that for every $1 in property tax a resident pays, he or she will consume $1.16 in services. Yet for every $1 in property taxes paid by a business, only 29 cents in services is consumed. Jobs are the obvious plus, but the balancing act businesses provide on the property tax burden are vital to keeping citizens’ taxes manageable.

Post Falls city officials and urban renewal board members have proven diligent in exercising restraint while looking forward. That the urban renewal agency has systematically closed its districts early is evidence of keeping the belt tightened against bureaucratic bloating.

For more background on the issue, go to cdapress.com and in the search box type “Post Falls tech URD.”

To those who consider the challenges of a landlocked community hospital that needs to expand somewhere and the potential of our region’s best entrepreneurs and brightest minds to generate good jobs, the possibilities are exciting. And to the families who gain from this kind of growth, the difference between 831 acres of prairie and 831 acres of heaven will be indistinguishable.

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