FLINT-On April 23, The Flint Journal called for private solutions to Flint’s poorly performing Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

According to the Journal, The DDA long ago ceased to be the main locus of activity for downtown development, handing its mission by default to private agencies such as Uptown Reinvestment Corp., which recently began work on a $400,000 plan for downtown improvement. Privatization of the DDA and consolidation of its organization with other private groups would relieve the taxpayers of the subsidy the DDA has been receiving since its inception in 1970.

Flint wouldn’t be without examples to follow in this regard. On Feb. 4, Hamtramck’s Emergency Financial Manager Louis Schimmel announced that he would dissolve Hamtramck’s DDA, citing the authority’s inability to get any project done. In announcing the move, Schimmel pointed out that downtown businesses would receive a two-mill tax deduction. While Hamtramck’s DDA may return as a formal organization it will have neither taxing power nor its four-member staff as it had before. The DDA has effectively been reduced to a committee that oversees local development projects.

For more on the nature of local economic development agencies, see “Local Economic Development: Public or Private?" in the Summer 1999 edition of MPR. If Hamtramck and Flint successfully hand over these duties to the private sector, they will provide a model for others to follow.