When I hear that Internet innovator PayPal is considering a move into the Providence Superman Building — which has been vacant for so long, if I recall correctly, in part because it lacks capacity for the technology of modern companies — I can’t help but wonder what the dollar amounts will be. Here are Ted Nesi and Dan McGowan:
Matt Sheaff, a spokesman for the R.I. Commerce Corporation, declined Wednesday to comment specifically on whether PayPal is looking at the building but confirmed that state officials remain in active discussions with the company about potentially expanding into Rhode Island. …
One sticking point on a PayPal-Superman deal could be cost. [Owner David] Sweetser has repeatedly argued the building needs significant renovations that cannot be funded without government assistance.
Oh, and don’t forget: “Any transaction would also likely require a break on Providence property taxes, which are among the highest in the country for commercial real estate.”
So Rhode Island’s economic development strategy is to create an environment in which businesses have difficulty operating and “iconic” old buildings can’t find non-government investment to bring them up to date. Then the governor goes out looking for big companies that would represent, as the article puts it, “a major coup” and promises to give them money taken from the residents and businesses who are still able to manage to survive in the state, somehow.
This approach may do wonders for political insiders and corporate big-wigs looking for crony relationships. For the rest of us — particularly those of us struggling to get ahead in the world — not so much.