My Letter to the Editor of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report...

Discussion in 'Free Speech Alley' started by TigerEducated, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. TigerEducated

    TigerEducated Founding Member

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    I penned this little letter to Rolfe McCollister, Jr., the editor of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report after seeing him come out editorially on his daily updated website (www.daily-report.com) against the proposed location of the Bass Pro Shop in my hometown of Denham Springs, Louisiana.

    What do you guys think?

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    Mr. McCollister,

    I am a Denham Springs resident. I'll say it first thing.

    Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I must admit that I've enjoyed and read with regular, consistent interest your reports and stories on both your businessreport.com and daily-report.com websites. I really enjoy them. I am looking forward to seeing what changes are made on both sites as a result of the survey you recently put online to improve them.

    Having said that, I must also say that almost unequivocally, I've never disagreed with a single comment made on either of your sites. Even Mr. Ball's interesting views on LSU Athletics (which, as a 25 year old former LSU student, I am an avid fan of). That is, never until Tuesday night.

    While at work (in Baton Rouge), I perused the daily-report.com site and its daily smorgasbord of local information (which I wish was greatly expanded in its volume, depth, and breadth from a coverage standpoint). I found your own opinion interspersed, which has been happening a little lately, regarding the proposed Bass Pro Shop location in Denham Springs, Louisiana.

    It was with great shock I read about your actual disapproval with the venture. It was with even greater shock that I continued to read, and found little to no substance beyond your disagreement with the venture.

    Mr. McCollister, you've never been one to strike me as a cynic. Most all of your suggestions/shots/observations/points are well thought out, clear, and erudite. The lack of a suggestion in response to the type of economic development that my home Parish has attracted was very telling in reading your opinion.

    In this humble consumer of your product's opinion, your own opinion on this subject was as brief as the thought it seems went into the formulation of the opinion itself.

    Base economic development on our schools? Rolfe, how did we get such good schools? Let's face it, it has as much to do with the influx of suburban type non minority families who made the "White flight" to the relative "country suburbia" blend provided by Livingston Parish (and really, the Denham Springs/Walker/Live Oak/Watson area in specific) as it has to do with your backwards and bungling handling of a school desegragation case that went on longer than any other in our nation's history!

    It also doesn't hurt to have the current MFP formula conjured up in such a way that an industry lacking parish such as Livingston's can have a school system which can thrive as opposed to a system like West Baton Rouge or Iberville, both of whom benefit from large industry and local large scale employers.

    But, enough of what your suggestion was. We both know that you don't have too many bright ideas for Livingston Parish on your own, and your little missive regarding Bass Pro proves me right.

    Why oppose the Bass Pro Shop? Seriously? Why oppose its location there?

    I would say much more than a simple majority of the residents of Livingston Parish earn their living in East Baton Rouge or elsewhere. I think you would agree. I think most any rational observer of the local economic scene would agree as well. It's not as if Bass Pro would take away a huge swath of skilled workforce labor for Baton Rouge, is it?

    The simple fact is that Livingston Parish has almost ZERO in the way of industry and economic development. Almost nil. Any way you look at this snowglobe, Livingston Parish shines, but shines in the same manner as the moon on a clear night.

    It's reflected light, Rolfe. People come here because Baton Rouge is a hop, skip and a jump away. They come here because our school system isn't mired in mediocrity (which has more to do with the average socioeconomic profile of our students than race or the teachers, etc). They come here because they can work in Baton Rouge, and live in the country. They live here because the concrete jungles doesn't appeal like the suburban sprawl.

    But, they come here with their money safely deposited in banks in Baton Rouge. They spend their money in malls off Bluebonnet and 190 and Airline. They go out to eat off Bennington and they go to the show off Corporate. Their discretionary income spends elsewhere.

    Their tax dollars work for you. Their salaries are made where you live. They go on their lunch break, buy their gas, and hit the gym after work in your city. Not mine.

    It's like the grown kid who lives at home, and treats it like a dorm: Just a place to stash your stuff, crash on the couch, and then jet out when it's time for class.

    Now, here come bold Livingston Parish leaders, community organizations, and even local School Boards. They woo a big company like Bass Pro to come. The state promises millions. Blanco promises a THIRD interstate exit (you'll have to excuse my enthusiasm over that, since we've been on "the DOTD list" since I was five for the 2nd exit). Three hundred jobs, and even Baton Rouge Big Boys like TJ Moran ponder putting a TJ Ribs in little ole Denham Springs.

    The school board of this effective and results oriented schools sytem comes out unanimously in favor of this project. You remember them, right Rolfe? The ones you said we should build our economic development around? Seems like they would probably be in a better situation to know what's good for their school system (judging from the results they produce on a perennial basis, I hardly think you'd have the audacity to lecture them on the proper way to comport themselves in this instance) than you would.

    A huge economic development center that generates traffic easing ancillary benefits and long time coming and desperately needed infrastructure enhancements (via two new interstate exits), property value increases, a higher public profile for the area, a larger tax base for the city, parish, and even the state to draw from, a local bedrock retailer that will attract not only out of town consumers but local retailers and merchants to feed off of its own success and business, and last but certainly not least, HUNDREDS OF NEW LOCAL JOBS FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS!

    It's going to make citizens of our city and parish get to work in Baton Rouge faster. It's going to ease traffic from Airline to O'Neal in the afternoons on the interstates. It's going to get people off the roads from Livingston to Baton Rouge (They'll now be working at Bass Pro), and it's going to give our parish a much needed boost in sales tax.

    Lastly, Rolfe, your assumption that with stores in Shreveport, Jackson, and Biloxi, this location won't draw enough people from a five state area, I submit to you simple logic, sir.

    What other state in the Union has more outdoorsmen than our hallowed home? The "Gret Stet Of Looziana" isn't called the Sportsman's Paradise for 'nothin. When's the last time you thought about snagging some bass in Jackson? How about going offshore near Biloxi? I'm guessing the Tarpon Rodeo wouldn't quite be as popular if it was located in Shreveport as compared to Grand Isle, don't you think?

    But...If you're on your way down to Grand Isle on 12, coming from Arkansas or North Louisiana, or from Texas or even Natchez or somewhere else, you'd drive right past the Denham Springs exit, and see the big sign for Bass Pro Shop. You'd think about that old reel, or the need to respool it with new string.

    You might even make up your mind to just hook up the trailer and go buy a new boat on your way down...

    It's very logical to assume that a Bass Pro Shop that's literally 20 minutes from Lake Maurepas and the extensive tributary system of the Amite, Tickfaw, and Blind Rivers, along with the Amite Diversion Canal, nevermind no less than 2 hours from the coast and five minutes outside of the 2nd most populous area in the state (away from a cumbersome traffic situation and easy to get into and out of thanks to easy interstate exit and entrace ramps built specially and specifically for it) would seem to be a welcoming thought to most who travel to our state to take advantage of the wonderful outdoors adventures that appeal to Bass Pro's core customer. It's pretty logical to me.

    Matter of fact, it's pretty logical to Denham Springs city leaders. It's pretty logical to Livingston Parish community and political leaders. It's pretty logical to the Livingston Parish School Board. It's even pretty logical to our new and ethically challenged Governor. Why isn't it logical to you?

    Could you stand in the way of hundreds of jobs, infrastructure improvements, easing traffic conditions in your city, increasing the tax base of a school system already striving for excellence, and something other than slot machines that can get out of state dollars into this one? I didn't think you could. At least, I didn't think you could until Tuesday night.
     
  2. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

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    I'm all for putting a Bass Pro Shop in Denham Springs but in response to the following:

    If you were headed to Grand Isle from North Louisiana you would probably come down I-49 to I-10 and then go through Baton Rouge to the Luling Bridge exit before reaching New Orleans. Same path on I-10 from southeast Texas. From Natchez the best route would be to head east to I-55 then south to I-10 bypassing I-12. There is no route from almost anywhere to Grand Isle that taking I-12 past Denham Springs wouldn't be a detour.

    I have fished on the North Shore at the trestles and the rigolets and the route to that destination does take me past Denham Springs on I-12.

    I haven't ever been to a Bass Pro Shop but if their prices are competitive to what I can get elsewhere I would make a special trip to Denham Springs before I went fishing to buy whatever I might need.
     
  3. red55

    red55 curmudgeon Staff Member

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    I just don't see giving a retail business millions to place a store here. It's not like a GM plant or something that they are going to make one of and are searching for a suitable location. They are going to keep building Bass Pro stores in as many areas as they can. It will hire people, sure, but it will put many small stores out of business just like WalMart. Only WalMart takes its own risks and spends its own money when they come into a town and they compete fairly for the business.

    This giant chain makes money wherever they put one of these stores. Sooner or later they will put one in the area anyway if they want to take our retail dollars. We would be fools to pay them for the privelege. There is no shortage of sporting goods stores around here. Let Bass Pro come in a compete fairly like any other merchant.
     
  4. Ellis Hugh

    Ellis Hugh Space Wrangler

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    I love Bass Pro Shops. It's more like a mall than a single store. I didn't know they were even considering one.

    My opinion is that the gains in revenue would outweigh the losses. When you look at the big picture, it generates more than just BP's revenue. There will also be new restaurants and gas stations built near it. I for one would drive up from New Orleans to shop at BP. I would also eat in a restaurant, and fill up my tank. While BP's profits would leave the state to their HQ, all of the jobs created would be local. These new jobs would employ locals who then spend their money locally, encouraging more growth of the local economy. They would also be paying more state income and sales taxes...

    However, I agree with Red that we shouldn't be paying them alot to open here. If the demand is here then they would want to open without a payoff. We could offer them tax incentives the same as any other company receives. (This is the first I am hearing of this issue and don't know the details of the whole story or offer)

    I disagree with the arguement of putting the mom-and-pops out of business. I doubt there are 100 small sporting goods stores in DS. Do we sacrifice 300 new jobs to save 10 old ones?
     
  5. lsugrad00

    lsugrad00 Founding Member

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    First your letter hit the trash before he even got to your opinion. You spent seven of the first ten paragraphs insulting the recipient of the letter. If he read the whole thing you're lucky.

    Secondly I have to agree with Red. Why would you pay a business to put a store in your city? Especially when that money is going to immediately leave the state. When you spend a dollar at a local business all of that money goes back into the community. When you spend a dollar at Wal-Mart about 25 cents stays here the rest goes to Arkansas where they use it to buy their cousins affection.

    Sure when you open a store like Wal-Mart or BassPro you get 300 plus jobs, but 95% of those jobs are going to be minimum wage. At the same time you are putting small local businesses out of business. Local business is what keeps communities alive and thriving. The 285 bass pro employees who are going to make minimum wage aren't going to buy houses and cars and become pillars of the community at $5.25 and hour. If the community goes to crap your min wage workers just gets another job. They don't care. A communities local business owners have a true stake in the community. The local business owners rely on the community to support them and have a vested interest in local schools, politics, and economy.

    When you look at the long term effects that these huge chains have on a community most of the time they are not as positive as they originally appear. If they want to open a store great, but don't pay them to destroy the local businesses.
     
  6. TigerEducated

    TigerEducated Founding Member

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    LOL...I got a message in my inbox today...They're going to put it in their Letters to the Editor Section...


    Guess it did get read...
     
  7. martin

    martin Banned Forever

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    isnt it the job of the private sector to build private businesses? isnt that how free markets work? people arent forced by coercion to pay taxes to support one business over another? isnt that how free markets work?

    if a fishing would be so profitable, then maybe private citizens should invest in one and make some money. why should the government take sides and help one shop in particular at the expense of the others? why pay taxes so fishing shop A has an advantage over fishing shop B? is that really the responsibility of a taxpayer?
     
  8. TigerEducated

    TigerEducated Founding Member

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    You say that it's a responsibility. It is not. It's something that the public here in this area overwhelmingly support. The people who do NOT support it are those that are fearful that the business it creates will be business that is lost from other parishes.

    People are fearful that the slice of the pie that our parish receives in terms of economic boosts will come at the expense of their slice. Well, phooey on you, and those who are fearful.

    Livingston Parish never blinked an eye while we threw MILLIONS at a poorly funded venture like The Football Network. The state, and East Baton Rouge Parish promised and delivered on a myriad of government sponsored and backed business incentives for Jerry Solomon and the other snake oil salesman. They never even made it onto the air! NEVER!

    Livingston Parish never stood up for itself while people in East Baton Rouge wrested control of the ideas for a major freight airport from us and landed it out towards Donaldsonville. We didn't blink an eye after Baton Rouge area movers and shakers steered the location away from our home parish up and up to Donaldsonville. Not one eyebrow raised.

    Livingston Parish never blinked an eye while all those East Baton Rouge residents moved out here to take advantage of our land, our location, our schools, and our way of life, only to keep their money, be it their discretionary income, their health care spending, and even down to their living expense money like groceries and gas, in East Baton Rouge Parish...

    Now, we come up with an innovative and totally legal manner with which to finance a soft landing for a huge bedrock retailer to locate to our parish. One that is proven tried and true to bring in the bucks. Our school board, our city and parish government unite to back it. People are going nuts realizing how much stuff we'll have-from boats to boots and from Cajun Specials to NightCrawlers for bait-from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs.

    That's what you won't find anyone bitching about. No one is saying they don't want the store here. They just don't agree with our tax dollars being spent to provide a nice incentive to do so.

    Well, whose tax money is it? The people that support the location! It's the people of this parish who will be positively affected, and our representative government has arranged a way for us to put our money where our mouth is.

    Where were your complaints when TIF's were being discussed and Bass Pro was planning on coming...Just to locate near the Tanger Outlet Center? Where were you when this story first broke with complaints about TIF's?

    Would the leaders of East Baton Rouge be complaining if it was out in Prairieville? I doubt it.

    How is it that the PUBLIC through both its own tax money as well as its own will via its representative government on both educational oversight and local and state political levels can support this, and provide for us a way to arrange to entice Bass Pro, while YOU pay no extra money towards this unless you make a purchase of some type in the area of this TIF, and yet you complain about it?

    Our government supports what we want here, and the state is actually on board this time. We are speaking with our tax dollars, like we did on the recent road improvement tax, and the parks and recreation tax here in Livingston Parish in the Denham Springs local area. Who are you to dictate what we do with our own local tax money? It costs you nothing, and you are not hurt in ANY way!
     
  9. martin

    martin Banned Forever

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    it doesnt affect me. i just am a small government conservative, and as such i do not support government manipulation of the free market. you should not use your power as a voter to take money from people against their will unless it is incredibly vital. if it is profitable for a business to open, then let the private investors make money on it. dont prop it up artificially with tax money.


    (i read this article today and it reminded me of this thread)

    http://2theadvocate.com/stories/020505/new_basspro001.shtml

    from the article:

    "The idea didn't sit well with the operators of some sporting goods stores who alleged unfair competition."

    and that is exactly right. many republicans claim to be in favor of a laissez-faire system, and the love to talk about staying out of the way of the free market, but when they think it benefits them, they may change their tune. this is the definition of hypocrisy.

    if you are a competitor of bass pro, this deal totally screws you, and that is unfair. competition should decide who wins in the marketplace, not government manipulation.

    not only that, but when the survival and/or propagation of businesses is not dicatated by the market, but by tax dollars or votes or lobbyists or vocal idiots who write letters, the door is opened wide for corruption.
     
  10. Rex

    Rex Founding Member

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    Am I reading this correctly?

    Louisiana wants to PAY a store to locate in Denham Springs?

    People, people, people.... IT'S JUST A FREAKING STORE. There's one here in Concord, NC... big woo.

    Here's a little secret: if you want a hunting jacket and don't have a Bass Pro Shop around, GO TO ANOTHER STORE.

    Louisiana should use its money on repairing its roads.
     

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