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Spending money to make money

It’s been a good week for the downtown venom-spewers: The NCAA says “no” to a proposal to host the men’s basketball first and second rounds at Intrust Bank Arena, and the arena parking debate moves into a higher gear today.

That’s why you’ll find a lot of people claiming vindication on today.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to their concerns: This is a time when it seems like everyone has their hands in your pockets, and in my case, they’re down to fishing for pennies and nickels now. Don’t get me started on how financial institutions have reacted to the looming specter of regulation. Let’s just say they’ve got BIG hands.

But I wonder how the local “Oh, my God, don’t spend a dime” crowd will react in five years if Wichita’s economy remains in the toilet because the city and county fathers fell victim to economic panic and quit planning for the future.

I hear a lot about how the “free market” solves every economic problem. And although “free market” is Latin for “no regulations so I can make a bunch of money any old way possible” to a lot of folks, there are still free markets in Wichita.

To wit: Two of the city’s largest real estate brokerages are making changes and spending money in an effort to position themselves at the top of the industry – when the Wichita economy recovers.

J.P. Weigand & Sons has been nothing short of aggressive, opening new divisions and adding more staff to position itself for the economic recovery. Same story at Plaza Real Estate, which linked up with the national Coldwell Banker flag.

They share a simple idea: You’ve got to spend money to make money. And from where I sit, Wichitans need to keep that idea in mind as they grind their teeth over each and every expenditure at City Hall and the county courthouse.

Each expenditure comes with accountability down the road. Some will work out. I suspect some won’t.

But so does inaction.