For 37 years local governments have spent huge amounts of money promoting economic development with a dismal return on that investment.
Economic development program administrators fraudulently claimed responsibility for every new job. When the dream of becoming Silicon Valley North failed, the “goal” changed to promoting growth of local businesses mainly to help the administrators of the failed programs keep their jobs.
The reality is we’re just not going to attract significant clean light industry. What Butte County does well is grow things — almonds, rice, walnuts etc. Why not face reality and promote economic development with a legitimate chance at success? Like it or not, marijuana will become legal in most states and Butte County has a reputation for growing among the best in the country. The marijuana industry: $7 billion a year, growing 25 percent a year.
We celebrate when a hillside is cleared to plant vineyards. Is a carefully regulated marijuana garden more environmentally damaging than lands cleared for rice or almonds? There are hundreds of marijuana gardens in the foothills. The government cannot stop it. There’s huge money to be made and growing demand. Legalized, regulated commercial marijuana gardens would bring millions a year to Butte County. I think local government is so shortsighted that if Anne Bidwell tried to donate Bidwell Park today, they’d demand a $10 million trust fund for maintenance first. I’m concerned only with finding viable means of promoting economic development.