So there's this town of 80.000-90.000 people which grew quickly with the industrialization boom, but nowadays there are no big companies here, nor good opportunities for young people. So the youth is leaving this town either to study anywhere else or to find better jobs, and older people are the only ones who stay.

The setting is like Earth today, except some random people (only 2 in this town) have certain superpowers. There's a kind of overpowered "hero" (call him Mike) with superspeed and pyrokinesis who fights crime or anything he considers wrong. The other one plays the role of the super-rich "villain" (call him James). He has the power to manipulate people.

So the thing is: James wants to actually improve this town, he just doesn't care how. Anything that works would be fine. Considering that he can convince local politicians to make any law he wants and that he has the money to invest in anything, how should he use this in order to make people want to work / live here?


  • I'm looking for a way to create jobs for the people living here (and making it attractive for outsiders to move to this town from anywhere else).
  • To achieve this, he will use mainly his wealth, but he can use his manipulation as a secondary tool.
  • He's not giving his money as a present, he will also get benefits from this on the long run.

So, he has to start some kind of business aiming to ruthlessly take control of the city at the same time that he is creating opportunities for the people.

Edit: I wanted to make the line between Hero/Villain kinda blurry. Mike doesn't care for the wellbeing of the people, he just uses his powers to stop those he thinks are wrong. James is a ruthless businessman. He does what he thinks would be beneficial on the long run, even to the point of ruining the lives of certain people on short term. Think for example wrecking an abandoned building where homeless people sleep at night. He buys the place and builds a factory/hotel... Something that will create jobs, etc.

Additional info:

  • James is in his 30s, Mike in his 20s.
  • Both stay here for emotional reasons (both where raised here but other than that, no common past).
  • James inherited a fortune from his father's early death, and as he didn't earn it himself, he feels as if he has to use the money for a good cause.
  • The reason for superpowers is still unknown, some people just have them since they were young.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ok you need to explain WHY he want to do that. Getting people and business back is not enough because he could just convince to build superhighway from the town to any hub and the city would bloom because the people would live there and spend money in the city hence attracting business. Making any way always harm someone either people who live in the way or need to spend land cheap cos they cannot use it. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Sep 13 '18 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome scrp. Interesting scenario you set up here and I think we can make it on-topic. SE is different from a standard discussion forum. The site is about specific questions with specific supported answers. As it stands your question is really broad. Thousands of equally valid answers exist. I would recommend adding a bulleted list of 1) Constraints: Tell us key things that the situation allows and does not allow. AND 2) Requirements: what does the end state need to look like. In the meantime please check out the tour and help center to get a better idea how the site functions. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 13 '18 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ This is a good resource in particular: How to ask $\endgroup$ – James Sep 13 '18 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ There are entire University departments (Economics, Urban Planning, Geography, etc) full of PhD theses, and many rooms full of books in their libraries dedicated to this kind question without superpowers....so it seems a bit broad for an answer here. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Sep 13 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ I already found the answer I was looking for. Should I edit the question anyway? $\endgroup$ – scrp Sep 14 '18 at 6:27

What could work for James is killing two birds with one stone:

  1. Make the city prosperous (at least look like one from the inhabitants perspective)
  2. Make money out of it (concealing it as much as possible) and preferably gaining more and more control over the city

So one possible course of actions is to establish a company that will be very diverse, getting into control of almost everything that is happening in the city. On one hand it'll provide services external to the city (to earn money), offering a well paid jobs but it'll also keep offering more and more goods and services to the city. So, build a chain of cheap shops everywhere in the city. They are cheap so most people will turn to buy there, effectively ruining all the local merchandise (but hey, you can always work at Jame's-buy-it-all, you'll just never get really rich). Control education, with the education path suited perfectly for the needs of the company, offering it for free to the citizens (and enforce politicians to subside it). There is just one catch - if you use this, you need to work somewhere for James for n year, otherwise you'll have to pay back all the investments for your education (fair, isn't it?). A deal is good anyway as at some point the only place you can work will be James but hush... Build extra good healthcare, with hospitals and other medical facilities run by James company. Again, this is free for citizens and subsided by the city. Run the municipal transport, restaurants and so on. Promote electrical transport (but only cars produced in Jame's factory are subsided and can park in those green parking lots that now occupy half of all city).

In general grab control over everything in the city. Plus build a business to the external world as well.

There are few tricks happening here.

One is using James superpowers to persuade city council to give more and more of what is happening in the city under James' company's control. Of course this will be combined with simply social-engineering that doesn't really require any superpowers. But persuade the council for instance to subside those services that are to be offered for free so in practice almost all taxes go back to James.

Second is an overwhelming control over the city. While everyone feel well treated and prosperous in the city (they get decent job, good healthcare etc), they are locked in a middle-class and literally everything is controlled by James. At some point anyone trying to run something on their own will be either ought, destroyed or will have to leave the city (which might no longer be as easy as it used to be).

Third, as you suggest, while James cares for the big picture, he discards some part of the population that doesn't want to adapt. You don't want to move from this place where I plan to build an airport. I build it anyway if you are here or not. It'll be seen for everyone as a great thing (superpowers if needed!) and the mere fact that few families with children became part of airport walls... Well, no-one has to really know about it (except Mike perhaps, but who'll listen to him).

Fourth, the company tax is close to zero. He still have to pay people that work in his company but those will be going back to him mostly anyway as people will have no other opportunity to spend the money. The bank holding the savings is his as well and makes money out of money, so technically almost all wealth of the city is in James' hands.

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Perhaps ironically, it's almost certainly easier for your antagonist to solve this problem with his inherited fortune rather than his superpowers, and if he must use his powers, it's probably best to act on people with money rather than politicians.

In general, any good-sized town or small city that's getting less than its fair share of commercial attention (and most of the ones that are getting their fair share) will have an economic development board of some description that has plenty of ideas for exactly what will help bring about this kind of improvement. What they chronically lack are resources.

Getting businesses to invest in places is primarily an infrastructure problem. (I actually live in a university town of about 100,000 that's struggling with exactly this issue.) Businesses love towns without a lot of established industries because they tend to have low costs of living and things like buying land, renting space, etc. are cheap. But they hate those kinds of towns because they rarely have the kind of infrastructure businesses need (especially, in the modern world, robust and reliable financial and telecom services) and they don't attract the kind of people businesses want (mostly young, well-educated, ambitious ones).

The problem is, infrastructure is itself a business, and from a certain perspective so is skilled labor: they both go where the customers are. Businesses don't go to small towns because they lack resources; resources don't go there because they lack business. This is the Catch 22 that keeps your community from growing economically.

But your antagonist can trivially solve this problem by the application of cold, hard cash. A lot of cash. He buys a sufficient-sized company (if he doesn't have one already) and declares that they're going to set up shop there. Any infrastructure the town lacks, they'll fund it. Any educated specialists they can't find locally, they'll pay relocation benefits for. By forcing the issue with enough money, they will create a market for the kinds of development that towns need to attract more businesses, more commerce, more young, educated professionals.

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Just to add to Cadence's answer which is spot on, infrastructure is the key so below is a small list of things that would assist in a small economic incentive to encourage businesses to move to the town:

Using his Money

  • Build a couple of small office buildings that could house potential new investors
  • Install fibre internet to every home and business at low cost
  • Pay for a massively improved backbone to your towns internet to ensure that the highest speeds are available out to the WWW
  • Improve the road/rail/air networks where possible to ensure that shipping goods to and from your town is simple and hassle free

Using his Powers

  • Convince the politicians to approve the construction of some business centres or large office buildings to house the potential new clients
  • Make the politicians allow greater tax breaks to businesses (if possible depends on the Countries Tax Laws)
  • Get put on the board that's whole purpose is to encourage businesses to move to the town and when you meet with these people, make them decide its a good idea

Obviously it depends on how much money and how effective his powers are but varying levels of these in the ways above would definitely help attract businesses.

Its also worth noting that large construction projects no matter where they happen, often have a massive effect on local businesses, Building a new skyscraper? that takes a lot of delivery drivers that will need to fill up their trucks, means a bigger gas/petrol stations might be required. a lot of tradesman building the thing means they need places to eat and sleep so hotels and restaurants get a boom, they need somewhere to entertain themselves, so cinemas, bars, sports grounds and clubs of other varieties... get a boom in customers. they need somewhere to put their money so banks will look to open a branch to help their customers, all this extra money moving around means the locals have more money to move so they spend as well.

This was one of the main reasons that after the great depression and every recession big or small is usually combated with a lot of new building work paid for by the government. whether it be new schools or airports etc. Building work is often a key to economic growth

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Here are some ideas that are ethically grey (which is what I think you are looking for, and examples).

  • Use your powers to "persuade" farm owners to sell or give away their property to developers looking to make a quick buck with a project; even one that is highly speculative, such as an industry that might move in if you build them a factory (example: many developing rural towns). See the family destitute after they've spent the pittance they were paid for the land, since they have no other skills to highlight why this was a really unkind act.
  • "Convince" everyone involved in that shootout between two biker gangs and federal agents at the mall that it's in the town's best interest if this does not get shared with reporters, or any one else (example: Waco, TX Twin Peaks shootout)
  • After getting access to the leaders, and a short "conversation" with the anti-hero federal agents stand down and forget about it when they lay siege to the compound of a highly armed cult whose leader is accused of all manner of terrible things, including assassinating federal circuit court judges. Maybe have a "conversation" with the cult leader about laying off circuit court judges also. (example: Waco, TX Branch Davidian standoff)
  • "Nudge" the people during a town hall to ignore the results of home bought water test kits because the anti-hero believes the city council when they say they are playing chicken with the regional water supplier to negotiate a cheaper water rate by threatening to build their own water treatment plant, which is not doing a good job of treating the water (example: Flint, MI) Maybe followed up with an epiphany that the anti-hero should "talk" to the water supplier himself.
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