WS Item 01: Greater San Marcos Partnership

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COSM_Admin

Administrator
Staff member
Receive a presentation and hold discussion on the contract with the Greater San Marcos Partnership, and provide direction to Staff.
 

MBaker

Council Member
Not always sure the best place to insert these ideas but I would like to get them all out there and maybe have staff land the plane as to where they best belong in the contract -

Required Quality of Life survey every year

Required participation in our Council Visioning session (They weren't aware of our goals for Eco Dev...)

Required Spanish translations

Supporting more minority and women owned businesses

Better define "sustainable" to differentiate between good for the environment sustainable and economically sustainable.

Consider known business ethics in scoring matrix. Do the attracted business prospects rely on multinational funding sources with shady reputations (SoftBank and the like)? Are they relocating to Texas to avoid taxes or paying fair wages in the area they were previously headquartered? How do they treat their employees (Glassdoor, Indeed reviews reveal racist hiring and promotions)? Are they a business that focuses on extractive and exploitative business models? To what extent does their business fight climate change, do they produce something that relies on fossil fuels? We should define "High quality Jobs" to include these ideas.

There is a perception in our community that GSMP is pay to play. That their non-public members are receiving unequitable economic benefits, and that it is cronyism disguised as networking. We need GSMP to work on this aspect of their reputation and accept that people DO feel this way. Maybe it's through more public facing events or making the organization itself more accessible? For instance, why do people have to pay SO much to be a member? A cheaper option or having some of your partners sponsor small businesses to bring them to the table would really help show that everyone is welcome. The contract has said for a while that GSMP will provide "Substantial resources" for small businesses, but why is it that small businesses consistently feel like GSMP does not care about them or that they are even hear to serve them? Are people using the resources they're providing in any substantial way, are any of those resources in Spanish?


The EDSM process is a rubber stamp filled with GSMP members. While I know we are hard up on applicants for our appointed positions, it just seems silly how many GSMP members seem to serve across our various positions. Maybe we can limit the number of their members that can serve in other capacities in this contract? Additionally, we had requested that we receive the information with plenty of time to process, but for some reason none of the information was made available ahead of time during any of our recent meetings.

As GSMP moves towards more private donors, how will that change our relationship? Do they serve the businesses they attract, that they then convince to become members which gives them access to City projects and staff or do they serve the City and its citizens with a real focus on improving quality of life?

A fellow Council Member and I previously requested that the following be considered in the update -
1. That the GSMP must consider whether companies offer fair wages throughout their entire business model, not just the jobs they offer here. This is because we are part of any exploitation they take part in; our "living wages" cannot come from the poverty wages paid to others.
2. That GSMP ensures these business not be in the business of environmental harm or extractive practices that exacerbate climate change.
3. That GSMP does their due diligence to vet them and their parent companies for any lawsuits they have faced or are currently involved with.
4. That GSMP asks why they are relocating if that is the case - should we accept seeking lower wages, dodging taxes/environmental regulations a good sign?
5. That GSMP focus on childhood and adult daycares to help women remain strong figures in our workforce.
6. That GSMP focus on providing jobs for those struggling with Mental health issues.

Consider who GSMP partners with and their reputations; Wellsfargo and Amazon for starters have severely checked reputations as it relates to ethical business practices. Why do we continue to overlook these plain as day bad business practices for the sake of investment and economic "wins"? Shouldn't we require GSMP to analyze the NEGATIVE aspects of these companies as well? Who do they displace, who's toes do they step on, who's employees will they hire out from under what small business, etc? I've been continuously frustrated when talking to the GSMP president and other members at their refusal to acknowledge what are now broadly accepted academic reviews of the impact of companies like Amazon. If they aren't willing to acknowledge the bad reasons to bring in companies, then it doesn't sound like they are really serving us well, just "putting up numbers".

What would happen to GSMP should we divest entirely? Wouldn't they continue to work in the area and inevitably businesses will still continue to be drawn to San Marcos and we will benefit from their unpaid work for their private companies and other regional partners?

What would a reduced funding level still provide? Could we get analysis for $50k, $100k, $150K....$400k levels?

Can we ask GSMP to stop pushing spec buildings or at least focus on putting them on infill/rehabbed property?

What are the salaries of the GSMP employees and do any of them make less than $15/hour with benefits (including interns/part time)?

Under workforce development I just find it odd that all of these other entities must also pay into GSMP as members to receive the benefits of the partnership. We pay in $400k, but how much money overall is GSMP pulling in from all of its members?
 

MDerrick

CoSM Members
First, I just want to state that I do agree with CM Bakers assessment and list of things we were going to work toward #1-#6. Before Covid we were supposed to have a work session regarding such requests to vet them out and make a list to provide to our internal Economic Development Manager. Though we've not had much action in this area due to Covid, 1. can we please schedule a work session to hash these issues out soon?


Questions
There isn’t much mention of our Economic and Business Development Manager in the contract other than:

-GSMP shall inform the Economic and Business Development Manager when a completed incentive application has been received for consideration within one week of receiving the application

-GSMP to provide the City’s Economic and Business Development Manager with access to the customer relationship management (“CRM”) program portal to review BRE notes and input details related to San Marcos businesses.

2. How will they work with the GSMP other than allowing access to incentive package and access to the CRM porthole? How will the Development Manager communicate our wants to GSMP so they may be discussed prior to presenting the package to CC, as that would save MUCH time if some things could be negotiated prior to CC presentation.
3. Can we please have the EBDM's job description so we can consider whether there should be more direction regarding this relationship in the GSMP contract and internally?

As stated above, I know we are behind on creating our “wants” to be expressed to GSMP by the Development Manager, due to COVID - such as CM Baker's list and low water usage, sustainability development measures, asking for a little something in return for the many years of tax abatement; such perhaps asking them donate X amount each year to the arts, X per year for use in our affordable housing efforts to purchase tax foreclosed properties, transitional housing programs etc. X amount could possibly be based on size of tax incentives (other cities do this)? Perhaps while in construction they could donate time to help us build affordable housing on city owned lots. Many times, they do make charitable donations, but THEY decided where they will invest, not the city. I am "all for" asking them to help improve the quality of life in the city they've chosen to locate in exchange for tax abatement as tax abatements seem to be here to stay.

4. We need to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs to our community when deciding how to proceed with economic development incentives. We've been talking about this for years, and we are always told it's hard to tell what annexing these developments costs the city vs. what the city gains over the incentive periods of 30 years. A. Other cities use formulas to calculate the increase in services (fire, police, road and sewage construction/maintenance, library etc) can staff work on that for us? Some don't need to be annexed so it's easier to see cost/benefit, but B. Can we ask that this is included in each packet in a table format on the first page? This too would save time during negotiations in executive session. We are always presented with this type of information at the END of their presentation and many times we need to use calculators to figure things out. C. Could we request the GSMP put the 380 in excel so we can change the numbers & percentages on the screen instead of having to calculate by hand on the fly?

Thanks so much, I know I have a lot of questions that will take time to answer!
 

COSM_Admin

Administrator
Staff member
Please see attached responses and job description. The responses provided by Economic Development Manager, Kelsee Jordan Lee, surpassed the character limit for a post. Thank you for your understanding!
 

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