First, I have no axe to grind about Menards. They have been an Indy 500 sponsor during the “stock block” Buick engine cars, and I am a car guy, so, I like Menards.
Let’s try to wade into this without getting too wet.
Paducah needs jobs to grow--I get that. But we need to grow sustainable wage jobs, and if I am going to spend city dollars, then I choose to bring higher wage jobs. We simply do not have the luxury of an unlimited amount of incentive dollars to spread around.
There is a lot of discussion about T.I.F. (tax increment financing) being used to get a Menards. Here is what I think is the key to using T.I.F. from my study on the Kentucky League of Cities website. “But for” is the key in my mind. Meaning that the project would not exist “but for” this type of financing. T.I.F. must meet one of several thresholds, all based around redeveloping an economically deprived area. Hence the “but for.” I cannot make a case for the mall area as being an economically deprived area. I just can’t.
Just so you know, when Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot came to the mall area they built the access roads leading to their stores as part of their commitment to Paducah, not the other way around.
Then there is the “moral hazard” of incentivizing one retail chain over others. Sort of like picking winners and losers. I can’t justify this. And let’s be deadly honest. Will the addition of these new stores bring in additional business or will business simply be taken from the existing businesses? My guess is there will be some additional business, but they will be much redistribution of the business already here. But again, we will have given a competitive advantage to one group over others.
My business sense is that if a national retail chain wants to have a presence in the tri-state area, then they will build stores in Cape, Marion-Carbondale, and Paducah. My bet is that they will come here, to Paducah, incentive or not. My business sense also is that some business people want to extract every nickel out of the deal to fatten their balance sheet. I just don’t want it to be our nickel.
Well, those are my thoughts on this deal. I’m doing the best I can for all of us.