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Leakage is top problem

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By Richard Hannemann

“Our downtown is disappearing; local businesses are struggling; local residents are shopping elsewhere; non-residents are earning incomes here and taking that money out of town; there is too much ‘leakage.’”
Sound familiar?  Welcome to Whittier, Calif., where the leakage problem was the central issue in the 2006 city council election campaigns.
For the past years we have heard a constant drum-beat about “leakage,” the money earned in Los Alamos, which leaves Los Alamos.  Supposedly this is problem number one.  
Well, every town has this problem, because they are open economies. For the past few decades, communities have been trying to solve the problem by focusing on the consumer demand side of the economy, particularly because it would seem that is the source.
The emphasis has been on trying to increase sales of final goods and services, and there have been many strategies and policies implemented to accomplish this.  
Essentially, all of these have boiled down to two basic approaches: “Build it and they will come” and “Build it and they won’t leave.” There is a matrix, a web, a Gordion Knot of elements here and the examples are as numerous and varied as the communities and policies that have pursued these approaches.


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