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Thread: Incentives for Cabela's and Bass Pro

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Incentives for Cabela's and Bass Pro

    I read a fascinating article on the use of incentives to attract Bass Pro and Cabela's stores to communities. "Cabela’s has received $551 million in local and state assistance during the past 15 years. Bass Pro Shops received $1.3 billion in local and state assistance during the same period." All told, $2.2 billion to two retailers, all from governments, or if you prefer, taxpayers. Even if you do not patronize these businesses you are giving them your money.

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/job...cabelas/2906/#

    I constantly see communities giving large subsidies to retailers. Honestly, I have no problem with a downtown facade or signage program, or loans and grants to support new retail entrepreneurship, or even some support for activities like bringing a grocer into a unserved rural or urban community. But it is ludicrous for us to be giving away millions to support the likes of Walmart and Target, and even companies like Bass Pro or Cabela's, which can draw in shoppers from elsewhere.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Wheat Ridge, CO bent over backwards to get Cebela's to locate there. They spent $25 million on road improvement projects but Cebela's backed out at the last minute leaving the city with all this infrastructure for a development that will never happen. Now 3 years later, two other Denver suburbs are getting Cebela's instead.

    Admittedly I see the rationale for what Cebela's did but Wheat Ridge still got burned. Cabela's decided instead of having one large centralized store, they'd have two smaller stores on the north and south sides of the metro area.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I read a fascinating article on the use of incentives to attract Bass Pro and Cabela's stores to communities.

    I constantly see communities giving large subsidies to retailers. Honestly, I have no problem with a downtown facade or signage program, or loans and grants to support new retail entrepreneurship, or even some support for activities like bringing a grocer into a unserved rural or urban community. But it is ludicrous for us to be giving away millions to support the likes of Walmart and Target, and even companies like Bass Pro or Cabela's, which can draw in shoppers from elsewhere.
    That article is parroted from several books on the subject. It is a scam worth in the tens of $Bns annually. Minimum.
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  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    How can I say this without outing myself... let's just say the author did not adequately research these deals with Cabela's. In the case of one of the cities, Cabela's is actually upside-down on that deal because of how the bonds were issued (Cabela's had all of the risk) and they've had to repay portions of the incentive package for missing job creation targets. Also, the bond funding went to infrastructure improvements that were needed in that area anyway and were going to be built eventually. In the case of one of the cities mentioned, the water tower did not exist and was a future CIP project. The city name is still on the tower (along with Cabela's name). The city didn't "agree to take the town's name off its water tower and replace it with the word "Cabela's;" the water tower did not exist and was constructed as part of the infrastructure. It includes both the city name and "Cabela's" on the tower. The water tower was a CIP project and had been planned prior to Cabela's to address water system deficiencies & pressure. Of course if he actually read the materials that he lists as his sources, he would know that.

    A lot of cities, many mentioned in the article, have made bonehead deals for these outdoor big box beasts. This is particularly true for Cabela's after it went public and nearly all of the Bass Pro deals are stinkers. But not all of them have ended badly. In the case of the one city I've been talking about I'm not saying it was a good deal and I probably wouldn't have recommended it (like Card, I'm not a believer in tax incentives for retail unless it is something special like a downtown revitalization project or brownfield), but it wasn't the selling of the city's financial soul that the author makes it out to be.

    Rubes? Hardly. Leave the hyperbole to the blowhards on cable news. The article was very poorly researched, IMHO.

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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    This is where our cities have failed us in terms of economic development.

    Throwing money and subsidies at a project is the, dare I say, cheap, easy, and lazy way to entire a business.

    It is perpetuated by the rateables game because cities are broke and need continued expanding tax bases (read: Ponzi Scheme)

    Ultimately, all cities need to work together instead of against each other. Just look what Boeing did to Seattle bu relocating a large chunk (over 2,000 jobs I believe) to Charleston. But, this was not merely a decision to go to a right to work non-union state but also because Charleston gave abatements, low rate financing, and improved infrastructure which then put the heat on Seattle to respond, which they could not to that level.

    It's bad for government to get in these deals and I wish they would end, but they aren't likely to - just look at public financing for sports arenas and convention centers it's just as bad if not worse.

    Cities and Counties need to set up the climate for inducing business either from within or make it a place businesses want to come (without giving the dollars). Imagine spending over $1M on workforce training, or cleaning up an abandoned site and pre approving it for future development, or adding police to clean up parts of town, etc. all of which can improve the face of the community and become attractive to outside investment. Instead we just fill the pockets of corporations whose interests are really elsewhere.

    And finally, my biggest beef with this type of economic development is that the jobs rarely ever bring a return on investment. Yes there are a couple hundred temporary (<18 month) construction jobs that will bring in folks from around the country, but the majority of the full time workforce that's left behind is just above minimum wage.
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Rubes? Hardly. Leave the hyperbole to the blowhards on cable news. The article was very poorly researched, IMHO.
    Agreed - IMHO Atlantic Cities is primarily a cheerleader for Cities! (YAY cities!) and many of their articles need much more work. Their reporters need to have a smaller quota so they can do a better job.

    Nonetheless, the book The Great American Jobs Scam focused specifically on Cabela's in one chapter and throughout. The instance to which you infer may be the case, but does not disprove the overall context.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Buffalo had at least a five year "courtship" with Bass Pro to build a "mega store/museum/hotel" in downtown Buffalo which was little more than throwing money down a rathole. Luckily, somebody in local government finally got up enough cajones to tell BP where to go and what they could do when they got there.

    I believe that the Allegheny County, PA store proposed for suburban Pittsburgh about a year or so after the Buffalo store was proposed has never been built. I don't know if that one's been killed off.

    At least some "rubes" haven't been dumb enough to fall for BP.

    FTR, the BP in metro Toronto, which wasn't even on the drawing board when the Buffalo store was proposed, opened within a couple of years between the proposal and the opening I believe.

    A lot of people really do believe that these retail stores really produce economic "good" which is why they are so popular. What people don't realize is that lots of time the money spent at the store would have been spent at an existing store.

    I think when a community is underserved by certain types of retail and people are spending their money outside of the community to shop, then there's some justification for luring in those kinds of retailers, but mostly there isn't.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    ... the book The Great American Jobs Scam focused specifically on Cabela's in one chapter and throughout. The instance to which you infer may be the case, but does not disprove the overall context.
    Another good resource for information on these incentive deals is Clawback, a blog of Good Jobs First. For example, on BassPro, see this post. Here's one on Cabela's. (D'oh! I just realized The Great American Jobs Scam was written by blog contributor Greg LeRoy.)

    There is also a recent post about the Boeing deal that Tide cited.

    I agree with everything Cardinal said. It would make so much more sense to help the local retailer, or a group of local stores.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    I remember this topic!

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...hlight=cabelas

    Now Cabela's is back in town again, http://www.mlive.com/business/west-m...rought_mi.html But a smaller store, still the same. Former site of an industrial plant, the developer will get future tax bennies from this brownfield redevelopment site.

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