Saturday, July 9, 2016

More Good Money To Be Piled On The Boondoggle Bandwagon

Milwaukee convention center expansion to be included in strategic study
Expanding the Wisconsin Center convention hall will be included in a strategic plan the convention center’s owner will embark on later this year. 
The strategic plan will provide the Wisconsin Center District board with insights on all the district’s facilities, including the downtown Milwaukee convention hall, chairman Scott Neitzel said Thursday.
I've been writing about the misguided push for expansion of the convention center for years.

Beware Of The Economic Development Hucksters

Milwaukee's Boondoggle Twofer

The Convention Center Cabal
But, as experience has shown, the number of conventions and convention-goers has been falling the past few decades. With faltering demand already in place, increased supply drives the value down for everyone. A classic case of a race to the bottom. Maybe it's a good thing Milwaukee hasn't wasted hundreds of millions on pointless convention center expansion...
And, the numbers in the Business Journal article show that, even though we haven't expanded the convention center (which is deemed so necessary), hotel occupancy rates have improved. We've built more hotels and more of those rooms are being used even though Milwaukee hasn't upgraded the convention center. This increase in hotel room occupancy (from 58% in 2010 to 62% in 2015) has occurred alongside declining convention center events (from 78 events in 2014 to 53 in 2016). So, it may be more accurate to believe that investing dollars into the convention center would be a drain on other more effective economic activities in Milwaukee.
Hopefully we can pass on this round of corporate welfare. There are many other, more needed and more effective, investments our community can make.

[Aside: I will always find it amazing that unemployment, food stamps, aid to the poor and working-class, in general, are always frowned upon and those pulling the purse-strings are always looking to cut, cut, cut! Even investments in our infrastructure are put off into the future. But when billionaires come around with their hands out, looking for money, we're always scrambling and desperately looking for anyway possible to fork over millions of dollars, and more often than not, supported by dubious reasoning.]

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