Friday, 17 August 2012

Rumours of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated

(Yes, I know it's a misquotation: see here for the original wording)

This is today's jumping-off point: Company towns gone -- or are they?

I dislike on-spec posts that answer their own question in the title but I like the style of this article so I'm giving it an airing.

Some good detail and thoughts, esp the news of a company selling off a town they owned lock-stock-and-barrel.

But in reality the idea of a Company Town will never die.  It might not exist in the strict sense of a place actually owned de-jure by a commercial business but there will always be places de-facto controlled (or strongly influenced) by large local employers.  And that's ok - the very best employers will want to have a strong link to their locality, not just because of some modern version of Enlightened Self Interest but because it's the right thing to do full stop. 

Big employers have a duty to their employees beyond merely providing employment - and I like the idea of Google providing an "extensive list of services that ... employees can access without leaving the premises -- onsite doctors, meals and snacks, massages, laundry and dry cleaning, all sorts of recreational outlets, car washes and oil changes -- almost everything, in short, except housing".

But let's be clear, employers shouldn't be in a 'North and South' style position of total control - that would be intolerable.  But I'm up for a strongly symbiotic relationship between business, local government and the people - there's a creative tension there that can be hugely productive. 

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