Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation Mythbusters here. Today we’re tackling a tough and persistent question: Is growing a community a good thing?
We’re no Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman but, lucky for us, debunking this myth doesn’t take a rocket scientist.
Let’s dive right in…
Community growth (and, in turn, population growth) has a negative impact on quality of life. Neighborhoods become oversaturated. Traffic gets worse. Available jobs become usurped. Culture is forfeited. Pollution darkens the skies.
Many who believe the myth have a good reason for doing so: it seems like it should be true. After all, more booming business means more cars on the road, right? More neighbors means more energy, which means more pollution – it’s simple math.
But consider this:
In the United States, greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 were actually 9 percent lower than they were in 2005. This despite the fact that the country grew by nearly 20 million people during that same time.
The growth of our country – our community, really – did not translate to an increase in greenhouse gases. Instead, because of technology advancements and increased environmental awareness, we reduced our pollution output.
The truth is that correlation is NOT causation, and if a community sees a negative impact after a tremendous population growth, citizens should look deeper than their ballooning neighborhoods.
If a community refuses to invest in better infrastructure, for example, traffic will get worse.
If it doesn’t invest in clean energy, pollution increases.
And if a community doesn’t celebrate and preserve its culture, that way of life will eventually be lost.
There IS, on the other hand, empirical evidence proving that growth, combined with proper planning, correlates with:
* Improvements in a community
* Spurring investment
* Technology advancement
* Wage increases
The United States as a whole is, again, a great example of this. The population of the United States has more than doubled since 1950, and Americans today are both healthier and wealthier than they were when Harry Truman was president. In fact, our economy is about 7 times larger than it was in the 1950s.
Population growth also spurs advancement in technology and standard of living. Consider the idea of mass transit – the subways, buses, and light rail lines of New York, Chicago, and Portland – none of which would be economically viable without a large population to draw from.
More energy-efficient and less polluting than an equivalent number of cars, this is an advancement spurred by the necessities of growing communities.
On an economic level, a growing community means higher demand, which means more opportunity for businesses to hire, promote, and expand. Increased revenue means an equivalent increase in taxable income, allowing for better, high-quality jobs and more infrastructure improvements.
At the same time, a deepening pool of talent inspires employees to work harder and smarter, to not just maintain the status quo but to improve it, to progress, feeding innovation
The myth that growth has a negative effect on a community isn’t new. It may even feel true, sometimes.
But when a community is prepared for growth, when leadership takes steps to ensure population increase is met with innovation and investment, then growth is truly the engine that drives a community to prosperity.
A growing community means a strong economy, an increase in high-quality jobs, and an overall improved quality of life.
SCVEDC is your local resource to facilitate positive change that helps businesses succeed.
— Allison Needham