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Be cautious in Quincy Boom 2.0

About five years ago, Quincy was a boom town.

We had just learned that Microsoft and Yahoo! were going to build huge data centers in our tiny town.

Articles about Quincy were showing up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and many papers in between.

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Soon we had thousands of construction workers in our community, patronizing our hotels, stores and restaurants, pumping extra money into our economy.

Then there was the rampant land speculation. People from all over the country wanted to literally buy a piece of Quincy as they figured they needed to own the dirt when the thousands of techies moved to Quincy from places like Redmond and the Silicon Valley in California. (Never mind that the companies themselves were saying their data centers would each bring less than 100 jobs to Quincy and few of them were high-end managerial positions.)

Land, businesses and homes changed hands at prices much higher than they were before the data center news was announced. Developers were talking about shopping malls, movie theaters, new grocery stores and restaurants in Quincy.

We all know what happened. The construction workers eventually left town, the data centers didn’t bring thousands of new people to live in Quincy and we’re still waiting for a movie theater. And sadly, I know of several people who were busted when the boom was over.

Now that Dell and Sabey have moved full-steam ahead on construction of their data centers and Microsoft and Yahoo! are in the middle of their expansion projects, I think we’re on the verge of another mini-boom for Quincy. That’s a good thing and it will surely help our economy. But I hope we realize that we’re likely going to see only a temporary spike in our economy.

Quincy will indeed grow. It grew at a rate of 33 percent in the last decade. But banking on it growing faster than that is a sure way to become bankrupted.

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