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Kincaid Says Economic Development Plan All In Head
City Hall() - A recent slip-up by his Economic Development Director forced Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid to admit that the city does indeed have an economic development plan, albeit only in his head. Kincaid had been trying to keep the plan a secret to make it easier to implement, but he had to acknowledge its existence recently after his own staff told reporters that there was no plan. "I didn't want people to think I wasn't doing anything," said Kincaid. "We aren't floundering about, flailing wildly at any development bauble that comes our way." Kincaid pointed to the recent success one developer had getting past the 'Saloon Savers' coalition by using elements of Kincaid's plan. "They were patient enough to just let the building deteriorate until something had to be done. That was the original intent of the downtown revitalization district concept, and I have incorporated that into my economic plan." Kincaid lists the judicious use of corporate welfare and incentives for new businesses as other elements of his plan. "It's out with the old and in with the new," he said. "And the new don't need to pay taxes."

Development officials also cite the success The Furnace [night club] has had negotiating the streamlined permitting process. "Even though there is no clear path to a solution, at least we keep giving them a next step," said William Gilchrist the city's Planning Director. "Every time they come back to us, we give them a little bit more to do. Of course we can't tell them everything at once because that would reveal everything that is in Bernard's head." When asked if he thought keeping his economic plans secret from his own development director did not hinder her ability, Kincaid replied "she knows what her place is."

Another aspect of Kincaid's plan calls for integration of the highly successful 'blight barriers' with a new 'black fence' initiative. The idea behind the operation is to keep suburban workers from leaving the city so quickly every evening. "We need them downtown, spending money," said Councilman Bert Miller. Kincaid hopes that by moving massive numbers of black people to the suburbs every evening, it will make downtown seem more attractive for workers to stay a while. "Besides," says Kincaid, "it will put our public transit system to good use.