Leading with ideas | AspenTimes.com

Leading with ideas

Dear Editor:

As part of his campaign rhetoric, Jack Johnson has said repeatedly that we have to “create and sustain a stable economic environment which brings more business to the county – in particular business generated by tourism.”

In fact, this makes a lot of sense, but there is a great saying, “a goal without a plan is just a dream.” What is Jack’s plan?

I recommend electing a leader to office who has experience in the tourism industry. I have owned and operated a successful business serving our region’s tourists for the last 10 years. I understand what drives tourism and the jobs and prosperity the tourist economy creates.

It is ineffective for one to criticize another’s plan without offering a solution of his or her own. Managers, leaders, workers, or anyone for that matter do not succeed by merely disparaging someone else’s ideas. Good leaders develop their own ideas. I have looked at Jack Johnson’s website and heard him speak many times and have yet to hear any plans of action.

Government needs fresh ideas which are not only creative, but workable. Ideas should be results-oriented with a plan, and not just be vague campaign statements. My business, Rustique, has been successful because I have operated it with this philosophy and skill set. I have also served on boards and grown nonprofit organizations like the Aspen Young Professionals Association from day one to the 300-member-strong organization it is today.

I am a proven leader, and I can back that up with years of creative thinking and execution of workable ideas. If elected I will demonstrate that creative ideas, when well implemented, are the key ingredients of success and what our government needs now more than ever.

My idea of a “Triple Net Tax Rebate” for businesses that increase employment levels was presented at the Woody Creek Caucus. With the input of business sense and creative thinking, I am confident that this plan could be set at a level that would generate the needed offsetting sales tax dollars to pay for the plan and help sustain and stabilize the economy. Of course, I do not think that we should implement any idea tomorrow without hard work and a process of taking it to the public and the business community for their valuable input. This is a goal with a plan, and from there we need to do the work to fine-tune it with public input and more research.

Governments frequently provide rebates of this type to stimulate the economy. The goal is to get people spending more, because spending creates jobs and jobs generate income for people. When people make money they can spend money, and that generates revenues for governments. For example:

• City of Aspen $50 food rebate

• City of Aspen parking rebate to people who shop in the offseason

• Basalt cash back rebate for people who spend money at local businesses

• State agriculture rebates that create jobs for people on land that is used for agriculture

• Much of the stimulus plan on a national level is based upon rebates or incentives to create jobs and encourage spending.

• There are many more examples out there – just Google it.

Leaders must present plans, or their goals are just dreams. When the goal is to “sustain a stable economic environment,” especially in a down economy, government can help stimulate economic activity with rebates. Here is part of my proposed plan.

Businesses that pay property taxes as a result of a triple-net lease might be eligible for some level of rebate.

Eligible businesses would have to demonstrate that they have increased their level of employment in some relation to their sales and business model. (Salaries and wages come back into our economy when they are spent on things such as a pair of new skis or a night out on the town. Sales tax dollars are collected by the county as a result of that spending.)

• That then creates more jobs because the money is being spent in other businesses.

• This could be set at a level that would increase revenue for the county, while at the same time helping to stabilize our economy, enabling the county to provide more and better services.

I hope that Jack will generate a concrete idea of his own and share his specific plans during the campaign. The community would benefit from such a discussion.

Rob Ittner


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