I'm intrigued by what looks like a voluntary form of socialism. The free market couldn't support the business, so the community as a whole is trying to fund it. It's not a totally new idea: Delmont borrowed the concept from their Highway 18 neighbors in Menno, who saved the town grocery store this way.
Now I do have some pessimism about Delmont's plan:
- Delmont, population 263, has a per capita income of $12,385.
- Raising $100K locally would require every man, woman, and child in Delmont to hand over 3% of one year's income.
- Delmont has a poverty rate of 19.6%.
- If there wasn't enough business to keep one private owner in the black, the dividends for public shareholders will be minute at best.
Might the Delmont NPDC have a lesson here for Madison's economic development outfit, the Lake Area Improvement Corporation? Delmont's development corporation certainly has a lesson in openness for our LAICs: the Delmont NPDC website makes clear that "The material contained herein belongs to the citizens of Delmont"—no sign of charging $250 for housing studies.
If $100K is enough to reopen a steakhouse, how many downtown businesses might the LAIC support with the $2.3 million the community raised for the Forward Madison fund (a fund we haven't heard much about lately, have we?)? The Miller Construction office on Main Street is available for just under $60K: a creative application of our money to that building could bring some much-needed retail downtown. Anyone care to form a Main Street development corporation?