"A little education is a dangerous thing"

1984 + 30
Triple dip recession ends Cape Cod Commission, births university

By Cardinal Borgia

When we looked into our crystal ball to 2014 to foresee the Cape's economic future, we discovered that any future triple-dip recession could have beneficial as well as negative results.

Rather than laugh at Sean Gonsalves’ faulty logic in his column in Sunday's Cape Cod Times which posited that what we need on this sandspit is a four-year university which would dump better educated grads out into our empty job market, we carried his thoughts a bit further.

It occurred to us that such a recession might also finally rid Cape Cod of our ill-conceived Cape Cod Commission, a failed and bloated bureaucracy feeding upon us and itself.

We might hope that a continuing bad economy might force our Governor and Beacon Hill to "throw the rascals out" and save millions of taxpayer dollars while also improving the prospects for more year round businesses here.

But what kinds of businesses might we encourage?

Wampanoag’s Save The Day - Again

If we adopted Mr. Gonsalves’ fanciful view of things, we might suggest:

  1. Plead with our local Native Americans to establish their casino in Mashpee, their ancestral home.
  2. Instruct the Governor and General Court to turn the Massachusetts Military Reservation into a real "reservation" as Wampanoag tribal lands and site the casino there.
  3. Initiate an eminent domain taking of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport  and turn it into a R&D center for wind energy.

The first Puritan settlers wouldn’t have survived long without the kind help of the Wampanoag Nation.  Once again, the tribe might rescue us all.

But Seriously, Folks! Bring back Silicon Sandbar

Vote in our Poll here:
Which industry is best here?

Enough whimsy!  This is, after all, a very serious issue – perhaps this most serious challenge to the Cape’s year round viability. 

We have already seen the beginnings of “youth drain’s” impact on our communities as Barnstable realigns schools, Brewster faces the fact of a surplus school building, Provincetown High School poises to close and Chatham-Harwich are forced to regionalize their schools.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg, dear readers!

A little over a decade ago, everyone was still excited about the Silicon Sandbar that would bring environmentally clean, high-tech jobs to the Cape.  By 2008, that concept seemed as dead as its main advocate’s dot-com business.   Maybe not, though…

Private Sector Shows the Way

The Cape has many examples of successful, non-polluting, professional and technology oriented businesses that have thrived here.  Back Office Associates has thrived on the Cape, primarily because its founders are “from here” and wanted to keep the business here. Convention Data Services has done well on our shores for over two decades.  International Fund of Animal Welfare is another fine example of a global enterprise with its hub successfully located next to the Mid Cape Highway. 

In earlier days Software 2000/Infinum, Excel Switching, and other tech start-ups grew to maturity on Cape Cod before being sold to larger companies and disappearing from our shores.  Even today, a drive through Independence Park in Hyannis finds many small to mid-sized businesses thriving in quarters formerly occupied by those who moved on.  There is ample space available in locations like the Cape Cod Tech Center and other properties in the mid-Cape area.

An university attracts a transient population of students but brings nothing to keep them here once their education is complete.  Granted, while the youths are in school the provide decent co-ed eye candy and cougar bait…

If the Cape is to retain its young adult population or to attract a new “Yuppie” class, it must offer the kind of career opportunities that make a young family put down roots in a beautiful place like this.

If “incubator” space is needed, we might consider offering some of our surplus municipal buildings to be re-purposed for tech business.  For example, the soon-to-be-surplus Harwich Middle School building would make a very interesting space to grow some tech businesses.

How the County Can Help

Attracting such businesses to the Cape should be the top priority the Cape Cod Economic Development Council with the municipal governments’ full participation.  While this might be anathema to some local governments, consider tax incentives for corporations that come to the Cape, rehabilitate properties in distressed areas (like most of beautiful downtown Hyannis) and bring professional jobs to town.  The County could also provide leadership by removing such non-retail, non-residential projects from Cape Cod Commission jurisdiction to speed the process of getting them built. 

Our business friends receive mailings all the time from distressed cities in Michigan offering tax incentives, financing and other “carrots” to business that would consider relocating to their area.  Could not the Cape Cod EDC do the same to market Cape Cod as a destination for growing tech businesses?  Is this not the support of such tech business initiatives one of the very reasons why OpenCape was formed?

Co-ed eye candy for
old Cape Codgers.

The Silicon Sandbar was a great marketing concept, but a bit ahead of its time.  Today we see many examples of businesses like Back Office, IFAW and Convention Data Services that are showing us the way to our future – a future that includes lots of upper-middle class young people making their lives here on Cape Cod.

Cougar Bait

Gonsalves’ Cape Cod State University concept still has some merit.  It would bring some definite co-ed eye candy to the old Cape Codgers lucky enough to live nearby and would provide cougar bait for their frustrated wives. Nice try, Sean. We'll respect you one of these mornings.

P.S. Mr. Gonsalves, Cardinal Borgia wants to see you in his office.

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