Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between nations through government regulations.

Protectionism also applies more locally and that is a suggestion we’ve heard repeatedly over the course of the Block 22 project.

More specifically, recently, in terms of the recruitment of a restaurant in the ground floor of the former Crowell Pharmacy.

The argument, such as it is, goes that it will be damaging to established businesses to put competition directly across the street. We have heard the same complaints in reference Block 22’s student housing and retail — the threat to established business.

These arguments hold no water.

Prior to the Block 22 project Pittsburg’s downtown business district has been in a decades-long decline. This project holds out the hope of reversing that. Protectionism invariably ends up hurting the businesses it is intended to help. Protectionism stifles investment and innovation and leads to stagnation.

It may be cliché to say “A rising tide lifts all boats,” but it is true enough. A city — or business district — which does not grow, dies. Anything which will attract more businesses and visitors to downtown will accrue to the benefit of all businesses in the district and — ultimately — to the city as a whole.

We do not believe the citizens of Pittsburg wish to see the continued decline of the historic heart of the city, but rather want a vibrant downtown shopping destination which will be the envy of the Four States.

Block 22 can be the linchpin of that, if the community will get behind it.