Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tax breaks for business? First example of why you must use them

It is interesting to watch as the USA becomes an economy based on consumer spending, the cities that have the regional shopping Mall's and big box concentration's, harvest the largest amount of sales tax dollars.

I have written before that with little doubt, the best thing that Neil Dillard did as mayor was grant "The Gap" a tax break to come to the Carbondale Mall. In the 5 short years since then, the Carbondale Mall has filled up with good stores and the Marion Mall is in serious trouble.

Things are so bad in Marion that they sent my little internet company a letter and glossy brochure to relocate there. Reports are that Marion had no traffic over Christmas outside of their 3 big boxes (Target, Dillard's and Sears). How dead is the traffic? The Friday before Christmas, there were only 5 walkers counted inside the Mall. The stores inside the Mall are just dead and the marginal stores outside of the mall are seeing hard times and some are shutting down.

Would the situation be reversed if "The Gap" and more importantly in Southern Illinois, "Old Navy" had gone to Marion instead? I think it likely would be completely different.

How much money would it cost Carbondale to stop being the shopping center of Southern Illinois? Do you want to drive to Marion to shop? I don't.

Some people say that giving corporate welfare is always bad. In many cases, if you become the regional hub, you harvest the follow on business as well. This is exactly what happened in Carbondale's Mall, thanks to a small tax break.

Of course, your comments are welcome.


nobody said...

You are right, the shopping hub provides good employment, and wouldn't have happened without city assistance.

i'd like to suggest further that municipal industrial development bonds might be beneficial. Although the community seems to resist it, Carbondale is an attractive place for information technology development. There is a growing initiative to provide broadband Internet service to the region, for business development. Carbondale could participate.

Or, we could remain SIU-centric... maybe the first four floors of the library will make a nice allegory...

Anonymous said...

So which is it Peter? You constantly complain about how Marion has been consistently been doing a better job at attracting businesses than Carbondale, and now you're saying that Marion is failing at attracting companies.

Try and keep your story straight.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Don't you read anonymous? Services and non-service. Go back and read the blog, you are wasting my time.

sthorne said...

I don't recall where Peter has had much to say about how Marion is doing in comparison to Carbondale.

I agree the University Mall is much better in terms of square footage filled but I am not particularly impressed with the management of University Mall either. One anchor store space sits empty and a second houses the health care services facility which doesn't generate any foot traffic to speak of. Oh and what else is in that wing? Why, it's a brand new food court sitting completely empty.

Peter in Carbondale said...

The food court is open, with 3 restaurants. I'm sure it has been open over a week, because I saw the sign tout it last Saturday and stopped in to check it out. It is lame, but open.

What anchor sits empty? Are you talking about the craft store that closed recently? Give them time, it has just been a couple of months. It is hardly an anchor. Doesn't even have an entrance into the mall.

I'm not impressed with the Mall management either, but they are in a pretty good spot anyway, at least for now.

I certainly have said that Marion has had a better government for attracting non-services jobs (pre-Cole for sure). The big fish that Marion has attracted is Aisin. It is reasonable to conclude that everything good happening in Marion could be traced back to the jobs created in that one company. There is a nice article in the SI today about this (Page 1D).

It is too bad that Carbondale didn't have Cole in office when Aisin went down, we might have gotten them. Put Sheila in charge and we will be back to hopeless in no time. This is like casinos in Vegas, when the whale comes along you had better have your hooks in the water. There is only one mayor candidate who seems to understand this game and it sure isn't Sheila.

I have already discussed Tom Redmond and Kohl's, but we can revisit that story again. It is unfortunate that Sheila has surrounded herself with people who aren't very good. If she had just educated herself on economic development and simple budget issues, she wouldn't be running her campaign into the ground.

Sthorne said...

I stand corected on the food court. It was empty the last time I was there but that's been a couple of months. I visit the mall maybe 4 times a year.

K's Merchandise is the store I'm refering too. yeah, it's only been a couple of months, but the mall management had 4-6 months advance notice it was going away.

I'm actually suprised Marion isn't doing much better than it is, given it sits right next to the interstate, whilst anyone coming to Carbondale has to drive 15 miles to get here.