McGinn's jobs plan a little too good to be true

Editorial 9/1

It's difficult not to be skeptical when any politician talks about creating jobs in the midst of such a slow economic recovery.
It doesn't help when that talk includes a number of initiatives already begun by his predecessor, let alone that the expectations built into the plan appear too good to be true.
That is the situation with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's new economic development proposal.
Referred to as the Seattle Jobs Plan, McGinn's package includes about $70 million in new financing for businesses, millions for energy efficiency and a dream that it will create about 10,000 new jobs.
The assorted projects in the plan include a $26 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to retrofit homes and businesses. The money will be used to retrofit projects across Seattle, creating a projected 2,000 jobs in the process.
During the next 12 to 18 months, the plan calls for Seattle and its lending partners to distribute $50 million in financing that targets disadvantaged communities and small businesses. The money will go toward buying equipment, energy-efficiency improvements, working capital and certain development projects.
There are also programs offering loans to small businesses and training to immigrant and minority entrepreneurs.
There is very little that is new in the mayor's proposal. Some of the program's most ambitious plans, including the retrofitting proposal, were actually begun under former Mayor Greg Nickels.
Ironically, one of the newest proposals in the plan called for the mayor to actually talk to the business community, a group McGinn has been at odds with since taking office.
Perhaps the lack of new initiatives explains the muted response to the plan. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce has been positive but guarded. The area's unions appear lukewarm, and few news outlets have given attention to the Jobs Plan.
Our skepticism is raised with the proposed goal of creating 10,000 jobs - the dream that seems too good to be true.
Also, recent history teaches us that such wide-ranging programs often go astray. Just look at the tepid results of President Barack Obama's stimulus package for evidence.
However, because of the fewer levels of bureaucracy between McGinn and his goals, there is a chance that this stimulus package - efficiently managed and targeted - could provide the desired results. Let's not have the new mayor's proposal go the way of his predecessor's pledge to end homelessness in Seattle within a decade.[[In-content Ad]]