The IEDC (Itasca Economic and Development Corporation) is a non-profit organization supported in large part by the taxpayers of Itasca County which exists, ostensibly, to improve our economy. It was formed in 1981, and has been influencing our local economy ever since.
As taxpayers, who are providing funds to this organization, let’s start evaluating their job performance.
For the first step, we’ll start with how our per capita income relates to the overall state per capita income. I would like to have one chart, but I had to use several sources to retrieve the information, so I will reference them as I go.
- In 1959, the county per capita income was $5227, the state’s was $6481. People in Itasca County made 81% of what people in the overall State of Minnesota did.
- In 1969, the county per capita income was $7349, the state’s was $9113. The county’s was again 81% of the state’s.
- In 1979, the county per capita income was $10302, the state’s was $12204. People in Itasca County had risen in per capita income to 84% of the overall state.
- In 1989, the county per capita income was $10541, the state’s was $14389. Now the county had fallen to only 73% of the state per capita.
Apparently, something happened between 1979 and 1989 which hurt our local economy. One significant factor was the problems many of the mines experienced in this time frame, but even before this happened, the IEDC was introduced.
Let’s look at a few more years so that we can see a longer trend. First, from Epodunk we find that in the year 2000, the per capita income (in 2000 dollars) for Itasca County was $17717, and the state’s listing was $23198. The county had recovered slightly, rising to 76% of the state’s per capita income.
The most current records, coming from the Census Bureau’s quickfacts for the state and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED) for the county. The information here indicates that in the most current numbers the county per capita income was $24067 while that of the state was $30656. The county per capita income was 79% of the state’s.
Now, how do we apply this to a “job evaluation” for the IEDC? Prior to the arrival of the IEDC, in good times and bad, the per capita income of residents of Itasca County was consistently above 80% of the state’s. After the IEDC entered the scene, the per capita income in the county was consistently below 80% of the state’s.
By this standard, we can come to two conclusions:
- We were economically better off without the IEDC than we are now with it.
- In spite of the huge amounts of money the IEDC has drawn from the county, they have no tangible results to indicate that they have benefited the county as a whole. On the contrary, the numbers initially indicate that the IEDC has been a failure in improving our economy.
If we owned a business, and hired an employee who caused our income to be reduced instead of increased, what would we have to do? Either terminate the employee or retrain the employee so they could be more productive.
In the case of IEDC, is it time to either terminate its existence or cause it to be completely restructured, including placing it under new leadership, so that we can begin to see some more tangible results in exchange for the expense of our money?
Do away with it, and quit giving it our tax money, or restructure it and force it to work for us, instead of whatever it is doing now? What do you think?
More on this yet to come.