Thursday, September 11, 2008

SMABOR Questions & Answers

In the past few years, there has been very little professional job creation in San Marcos and even some job loss. Unlike our neighboring cities to the North and South, our efforts to solicit professional employers to our community have not been successful and we have even given tax abatements to existing companies just to keep them from leaving. What do you accredit this to and how can it be turned around?

A proactive commitment to revitalization of the downtown can be accomplished by acquiring funds for capital investment for infrastructure as well as small business development. When local businesses thrive and their employees reap the benefits of a successful local economy both San Marcos and surrounding communities on the corridor prosper. The revenues generated circulate within the town and throughout Central Texas enhancing the quality of life for Texans. This also creates a strong presence to attract investment opportunity to San Marcos.

Supporting community based small investment is key to revitalizing our economic infrastructure. No one can deny that global and regional organizations are restructuring via downsizing due to our shrinking economy. This is a trend that appears to be here to stay not only locally but also nationally. Viable and proven strategies exist and we must be proactive by supporting where our strengths reside. My approach incorporates taking advantage of Texas abatements for motion picture industry. Our historic district, river, downtown, surrounding locations will attract industry for locations which translates into millions of dollars worth of free advertising for our town
(1) Michigan is expected to see their revenues go up from 2.2 million after the new abatements for 47 scheduled production to is $288.4 million
(2) Cultural Tourism such as film festivals
(3) Encourage motion picture productions which make investments in repairing buildings, roads, landscaping
(4) Enhanced scouting programs and creation of production guides about San Marcos
(5) Film industry significantly creates revenue for local businesses: hotels, restaurants, bars, small businesses that provide film equipment, production crews, security, construction, catering, hairstyling, makeup, extras food, transportation, electronic equipment, supplies for set construction
(6) Estimated 70 to 80 percent of the scenes workers involved in technical and hands-on work needed to produce a film—are hired locally often earning often higher hourly wage than workers employed in other private sector industries.
(7) In 2005, for example, direct employees of the film and media industries earned an average salary of $73,000 (excluding highly paid talent)—a figure 80 percent higher than the $40,677 average annual salary of American workers that year

Sales tax currently represents approximately 1/2 of the total revenue for the City - with the outlet malls being the largest component in that category. Are you concerned about the City’s dependence on that revenue and if so how would you work toward diversifying our local economy to prepare for the possibility of the day the success of the outlet malls starts to diminish?

The lack of sales tax revenue is a growing concern throughout all cities in our shrinking national economy. San Marcos’ dependence on mega business for revenue is prone to suffer especially when a substantial percentage of the business’ customer base is nonlocal. With the continuously spiraling cost of fuel, the discounts offered by the businesses may not offset the cost fuel thereby directly affecting our municipality.

First, one form of cultural tourism is hosting film and music festivals. The overall perception of our city is improved with both large events in the convention center and small venues located in downtown San Marcos. Second, investment should be focused on program development for skills and small business development with the creation of Training and Education programs such Louisiana Film Crew Training Program sponsored by NOVAC (The New Orleans Video Access Center). These courses on how to be a Production Assistant, Set Construction, Scenic Painting, how to be a Grip or Electrician are free of charge and are taught by industry professionals. There is also “Teen Camp” which teaches digital video making and career development at the University of New Orleans Film Arts Program.

  Smart Growth” is a term that has recently become common vocabulary used to describe the preferred development approach in the growing Central Texas region. How would you define the term “smart growth” as it relates to San Marcos?

Smart Growth = Balancing long term and short-term effects of our municipal policy making and governance
Invest in Pre-Existing Projects Which Have Empirically Worked
• Revitalize efforts continue of downtown district
• Spaces for organizations and small businesses as part of this
• Investment in infrastructure such as pedestrian walk paths and bike lanes
• Technology in city management and public participation – chat with your council member prior to meetings for citizen input

Green Footprint Approach
• Conservation of water consumption
• Protect river
• Economic incentives to business who are innovative going green
• Stronger involvement by Council Members for the City of San Marcos Sustainability Program
• Conscious of gas prices when implementing policy due to new trends

Citizens as Capital Resource Worthy of Monetary Investment
• Incorporate Creative Citizenry thru grants to fund small businesses and community organizations to develop innovate programs
• Invest in educational opportunities of citizens
• Provide them with studio and performance spaces around town for coordination of events with larger convention venues
• Increase funding for project information Public Access Microcomputers for Public Library

If you were to pick a US city to model San Marcos’ growth after what city would that be and why?

The film industry has been key to economic recovery in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the state in 2005. Down the road after my plan generates city revue, I will propose creation of studio space such as The Film Factory—a $100 million, 300,000 square-foot studio in New Orleans. The Film Factor also has sound stages, post-production facilities, and a film vocational school. We could work in cooperation with Texas State University for specialized fast track programs to prepare citizens for high paying industry jobs. This would also provide an additional outlet for Texas State staff, students and faculty. Residents in San Marcos who have been long active in the creative arts scene here in San Marcos will find many opportunities for creative expression as well San Marcos youth. To this effect, I would propose increased funding for the Public Library so that pre-existing services our citizens utilize can serve as a feeder for more specialized training. I would also submit to the master plan for the library additional equipment and personnel for multimedia training and hardware/software.

In New York, the Tribeca Film Institute has played a key role in the economic revitalization of lower Manhattan since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. In 2008, nearly 400,000 people attended the 11-day festival.