How We’re Over-Hyping America’s Urban Comeback

Fool For The City: How We’re Over-Hyping America’s Urban Comeback

Jacob Anbinder’s (The Week) conclusion:

Because for all the hype about America’s urban comeback, it’s clear that the comeback isn’t happening everywhere. It’s a complicated equation that determines where job growth occurs. And much of it remains unsolved.

And that’s the rub…

Has The Farmers Market Movement Peaked?

Penn Quarter Farmers Market (Washington, D.C.)

Has the farmers market movement peaked? (from Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times)

An excerpt:

A new study by the Department of Agriculture finds that the rate of growth in the number of farmers markets nationally has slowed dramatically in the last five years.

That decline was particularly notable in Los Angeles County, historically on the leading edge of the farmers market movement, where according to USDA statistics, total sales dropped by almost 43% in real dollars between 2007 and 2012.

[photo via ep_jhu/flickr]

Richard Florida’s “The Joys Of Urban Tech”

Outside Velo Rouge Cafe, San Francisco

I just read Richard Florida’s op-ed “The Joys of Urban Tech” that was published last week in The Wall Street Journal.

Florida makes a good cultural argument about why technology companies are relocating to cities after previously headquartering in suburbs–namely to keep their young employees happy. Why would the brightest engineers and software developers want to live and work in Silicon Valley when San Francisco represents a funner environment. I’m assuming San Jose doesn’t exist in this scenario, or represent a “true” city in Florida’s argument.

That aside, Florida doesn’t mention a couple things that would make cities (using the Bay Area as an example) more attraction to this workforce demographic. First, technology companies employ high-salaried people. These workers can actually afford to live in high cost cities like San Francisco; sure, they may not want to live in big houses, but SF rental housing isn’t what you would call cheap. Add the fact that couples are waiting longer to start families and you have people that have much more disposable income.

Second, Silicon Valley is almost completely built out (i.e., there aren’t many vacant lots to build campuses and new development on). There really isn’t enough office space in the South Bay to expand, unless you can convince those cities to accept denser neighborhoods and build up. Some of the companies have chosen to relocate to cheaper parts of the cities. Florida himself states that Zappos moved to Las Vegas’ “old city hall” and Twitter moved to the “formerly derelict Art Deco building in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood.” With the latter, San Francisco officials bent over backwards to persuade the company to move in a blighted neighborhood. In other words, the decision to move back to cities may be financial as urban real estate may be cheaper and local tax breaks may be possible.

While I think Florida’s cultural argument has merit, he glosses over a more plausible financial argument that cities could just be cheaper to locate nowadays.

[photo via PJ]

A Big Reason To Get An Education…

Unemployment Rate by Education, United States, Jan 2007-Jan 2011

To get a college degree or not? This question has been all the rage during the Great Recession and has continued since it ended last year.

Yes, some people never went to college or dropped out and later became very successful (see Bill Gates or Steve Jobs). But many more people decided not to attend college or dropped out and did not become successful.

There will only be one Bill Gates and one Steve Jobs.

A big reason to get an education… the more education you have, the less likely you are to be unemployed. The graph above says it all.

[image via Jess Jiang/NPR/BLS data]

Borders CEO Mike Edwards Says Farewell To Borders Rewards Members

It was not unexpected. Borders is going out of business, and it will be liquidating its stores tomorrow (Friday, 22 July 2011). Borders CEO Mike Edwards just sent Borders Rewards Members (like me) an email to officially announce the fire sale, and what that means for Borders Bucks (they expire on July 31, 2011), Borders Rewards Plus discounts (they end August 5, 2011), and Borders gift cards (“honored during the liquidation sales”).

If you participated in the Circuit City fire sale, then you already know that “exceptional discounts” will vary.

From Borders CEO Mike Edwards:

Dear Borders Rewards Member,

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now. Borders will be dosing its doors after more than 40 years of igniting the love of reading in generations of customers. I am sorry to have to share this news with you as I feel you have been here right along with us as we fought valiantly to save the company. I want to personally thank you for your loyalty and support, whether you were one of the nearly 1.8 million customers who signed up for the Borders Rewards Plus program, shopped in our stores or on, or simply took the time to e-mail or call the company to express your support.

You might be asking yourself, what happened? How could it be that there won’t be a Borders moving forward? In a nutshell, following continued negotiations and the best efforts from all parties, no bidders presented a formal proposal to keep our company operating as a going concern. Therefore, under the terms of our debtor-in-possession financing agreement, we presented to the court for approval the proposal for firms to purchase our stores’ assets and administer the liquidation process.

We had worked very hard toward a different outcome. The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for quite some time, including a rapidly changing book industry, the eReader revolution, and a turbulent economy. We put up a great fight, but regrettably, in the end, we weren’t able to overcome these external forces.

Going out of business sales begin in stores Friday, July 22. I encourage you to take advantage of this one-time opportunity to find exceptional discounts on your favorite books and other great merchandise. Gift cards will be honored during the liquidation sales, and Borders Rewards Plus members will continue to enjoy their Borders Rewards Plus discounts through August 5. Further, all Borders Bucks will be honored until they expire on July 31.

For decades. Borders stores have been destinations within communities–places where people have sought knowledge, entertainment and enlightenment and connected with others who share their passions. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead Borders and play a role in the true and noble cause of expanding access to books and promoting the joy of reading. As a company, we cannot thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to serve you and the millions of other customers who have shopped our stores over the years. My sincerest hope is that we remain in the hearts of readers for years to come.

Many thanks,

Mike Edwards
CEO of Borders

UPDATE: The letter isn’t displayed on the Borders website, as of 7:49PM PST.

Borders Farewell Letter

[image via PJ]