Quantcast
Skip to main content
Friday, May 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

GCEDC announces public information session

post by Howard Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) officials will hold a public information session on June 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the MedTech Center Building, located across from Genesee Community College (GCC) in Room 214. GCEDC officials are encouraging residents to attend the meeting to learn more about how the GCEDC fosters economic development in Genesee County.

Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations for GCEDC, will provide an overview of the organization, the incentives they offer, and how a potential company can be attracted to our community. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.

“This is a great opportunity for residents as well as local businesses to learn more about  how our organization enhances economic growth in Genesee County,” Masse said.

Because the seating capacity is limited to about 100 persons, GCEDC is requesting that those interested in attending to please contact Rachael Tabelski, marketing and communications manager at GCEDC by calling 585-343-4866, ext. 12, or sending an e-mail to rtabelski@gcedc.com.

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 8:27 am

GCEDC paving way for possible medical device technology company at Med-Tech

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Alabama, bergen, business, Darien, GCEDC, Oakfield, Stafford

Genesee County Economic Development Center is trying to get initial permitting completed on a proposed expansion of the Upstate Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive just in case a specific medical device technology company wants to lease the space.

Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCEDC, told the County Planning Board on Thursday that a contractor has a potential leasee and is in negotiations now. Getting certain regulatory hurdles cleared now would help the process.

"If they reach an agreement, the potential leasee is working on a tight time frame," Masse said.

Masse doesn't know yet how many new jobs could be created by the company.

"They haven't gone before the board yet for incentives from us," Masse said. "More information would be available at that point in time, if it gets to that point."

The planning board unanimously approved site plan review for proposed 60,000-square-foot facility.

The board also unanimously approved a site plan review for a proposed 60,000-square-foot cold storage facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Masse said GCEDC still owns the property the unnamed company is considering for the facility and sales negotiations are ongoing.

That company also has yet to come to the GCEDC board seeking incentives, so Masse doesn't know yet how many new jobs will be created by the facility.

In other board action:

  • Did not approve variances for applicants to operate a gift and hobby shop on Knowlesville Road, Alabama, and a country store on Tesnow Road, Alabama. The board encouraged the applicants to seek a zoning change with the town rather than get a variance to existing zoning.
  • Approved a special use permit for a home welding business at 7460 Alleghany Road, Alabama.
  • Declared that a proposed boarding house at 316 E. Main St., Batavia, isn't subject to county planning review. Owner Terry Platt is looking to convert a single-family home into a 12-room boarding house.
  • Approved subdivision and site plan review for 7,015-square-foot building to house a gun store, laser engraving business and indoor shooting range at 8240 Buffalo Road, Bergen.
  • Approved site plan review to rebuild a fabrication business at 1606 Broadway Road, Darien.
  • Approved, with modifications, a site plan review and area variance for a new Dollar General at 111 N. Main St., Oakfield.
  • Approved a site plan review for conversion of a former restaurant and apartment complex at 6309 Clinton Street Road, Stafford, into a four two-bedroom apartment and a single one-bedroom apartment complex.
Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

GCEDC board passes tax breaks for COR Development unanimously

All five members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board present for today's meeting voted yes on $1.8 million in tax breaks for COR Development to help the Syracuse-based company bring national retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, to Batavia.

Legislator Shelly Stein, who sits on the GCEDC board, praised COR for all it's done for local schools and the community by generating new tax revenue.

While she said she agrees with much of what speakers said at Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed abatements, particularly about the current state of affairs in New York, she considered the proposed development a "great win for the county, the town and the city." 

New York's high tax rates, she said, makes such incentives necessary.

"I thank you for bringing this project forward," she said to COR VP Joseph B. Gerardi. "That 18 million of investment, and not asking for that PILOT to restart at zero and start at 40 percent, makes a lot of sense for us."

Board Member Jim Vincent said that clearly the public doesn't understand what GCEDC does.

"The public comments signify that we've still got a way to go to convince the populace of Genesee County about what we do and why we do it," Vincent said. "I appreciate projects like this coming forward because in my opinion just the sales-tax factor alone adds an annuity to reduce the tax burden on every business, farm and family that resides in Genesee County."

No other board members spoke.

After the vote, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde thanked the board for approving the project.

"Just to remind everybody that inside the resolution, the predominate finding was that this was a unique facility project to meet the retail restrictions under the law," Hyde said. "This is the only 36-acre major shopping center inside this entire county. As the law states, this is the opportunity to bring more, varied shopping offerings and services to the community and without this particular project, as the law states, the availability of these broader services and offerings would not be readily accessible to the residents of the community.

"Hence, that was really the underlying basis of the retail restriction and the request for the board to consider, because at the end of the day, we're trying to attract large-scale, tech-driven manufacturing here. ... The last thing you want to do is have a large, empty building while we're showing our community."

John L. Rizzo and Mary Ann E. Wiater were not present at today's meeting.

Voting yes were Stein, Vincent, Charlie Cook, Wolcott T. Hinchey and John F. Andrews.

COR estimates that the four possible tenants -- which COR has previously confirmed includes Dick's Sporting Goods -- will generate more than $16 million in annual gross sales and the four tenants will likely invest $11 million to get their stores open.

After the meeting, walking down the hall, we tried to ask Gerardi why $1.7 million in tax breaks are necessary when the revenue estimates and total capital investment indicates there is market demand for the project. He said questions needed to be directed tomorrow to the company's CEO, Steve Aiello, and made a sharp left turn into the men's room.

Aiello has not previously returned calls nor answered e-mails from The Batavian.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

GCEDC reschedules COR public hearing to accommodate requests for evening meeting

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that the public hearing on the COR Development project application, originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 23rd at 4 p.m., has been rescheduled to April 30th at 7 p.m. to accommodate requests for the meeting to be conducted outside of normal business/working hours.

“The GCEDC strives to be a transparent and accommodating agency so when we get these types of requests we do everything we can to honor them,” said Charlie Cook, GCEDC board chairman. “It’s evident that this project has generated quite a bit of interest so we want to make sure that the community has the opportunity to learn more about the project and have their voices heard.” 

At the meeting, the GCEDC will provide a comprehensive overview of the project – including the benefits COR Development is applying for to develop the vacant Lowe's building – as well as a full disclosure of the fiscal and economic impacts the Batavia Towne Center has had on the surrounding community since it came to fruition. Following the presentation, the hearing will be open for public comment; the GCEDC also will read any written comments received by the agency prior to the public hearing.

Written comments can be sent to the GCEDC’s Marketing and Communications Director, Rachael Tabelski at Genesee County Economic Development Center, 99 MedTech Drive, Suite 106, Batavia, NY 14020.  Written comments must contain the individual’s contact information, including address and phone number, and should indicate if he or she would like the comment read at the hearing. All comments and public hearing testimony will be reviewed by the GCEDC board prior to a vote on the COR Development application for support.

Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Public hearing set on incentives for COR Development

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

A public hearing has been set for COR Development's request to receive financial assistance to renovate the former Lowe's location in Batavia Towne Center.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: The hearing has been rescheduled. It is now at 4 p.m. April 23 at Batavia Town Hall. (It was previously set for April 22.)

COR is seeking nearly $1 million in tax incentives for the project.

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Petition drive started to protest further tax incentives for COR and Dick's Sporting Goods

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

Press Release from Phil Ricci, chairman of the Gensee County Libertarian Committee:

Dick's Sporting Goods also does not expect to win, or ask for, tax abatements to expand here. "Our goal is to deliver everything at the lowest price," Hennion said. "We really don't feel like we should be using customers' money to build our stores."

That was a direct quote from the VP of Dick's Sporting Goods!

The classification of the Batavia Towne Center as a "tourist destination" is laughable at best, and a complete deception regardless. More than $6 million dollars has already been promised to COR over a 10 year period. Yet even though the company did not complete many of the promises within the original project, they are asking for an additional $ 1 million in "tax incentives" to re-fit a previously failed space!

No tax payer should be asked to subsidize a multi-billion dollar retail chain, so they can do business in their town, but what's even worse is when that retailer is not asking for the help!

Stop the abuse! Tell Mary Pat Hancock and the GCEDC Board to not approve the additional funds!

Sign the petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/706/682/307/stop-the-additional-funding-of-tax-incentives-to-cor-for-dicks-sports/

About the Genesee County Libertarian Committee: Advocate. Educate. Choice. The Genesee County Libertarian Party. For more information, please join us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/GCLP.NY.
Also Please join us for our first fundraiser, April 13th at Batavia Downs! http://thebatavian.com/lisa-ace/sponsored-post-celebrate-liberty-night/36799
Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Batavia Towne Center expected to generate more than $4.3 million in new tax revenue by 2018

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

NOTE: There was a big mistake in the original headline of this post about the amount of property taxes that would be generated over 10 years.  The correct number is $4.3 million, not the significantly higher number previously quoted.

Batavia Towne Center, in the four years since the first stores opened there, has generated more than $500,000 in new property tax revenue for schools and county government.

It's also generated more than $500,000 in new fire tax revenue for the Town of Batavia.

We don't know how much sales tax it's generated because those figures are considered confidential. But COR Development estimated -- when it applied to GCEDC in 2006 for tax abatements for the project -- that at build-out, the center would add more than $4.5 million in annual sales tax to the state and county treasuries.

Under the current terms of the agreement between COR and the Genesee County Economic Development Center, Batavia Towne Center will generate an estimated $4.3 million in property tax and fire tax revenue by 2018.

COR is asking that the original agreement be modified to help the company attract Dick's Sporting Goods along with one or two other retailers to the former Lowe's location.

There are three tax abatements under consideration:

  • $180,000 sales tax exemptions
  • $43,750 mortgage tax exemption
  • $828,390 property tax exemption

Before there was a Batavia Towne Center there was 47-acre parcel of land that didn't have much on it except for the Wood Hill Trailer Park off Park Road that -- according to a June 22, 2006 article in the Batavia Daily News -- was filled with aging trailers that once housed race jockeys from Batavia Downs.

The total assessed value in 2008 was $1.6 million.

After Batavia Towne Center opened, the assessed value jumped to $14.5 million.

Under the terms of the original agreement with GCEDC, COR received a $6 million tax incentive package:

  • $2,078,400 sales tax exemption
  • $312,500 mortgage tax exemption
  • $3.6 million property tax exemption

COR was planning a 375,000-square-foot shopping plaza that would be anchored by Target and Lowe's with Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetCo and Michael's, as other key tenants.

It would cost COR an estimated $40 million to build the center.

COR estimated at build-out the stores would employ 364 full-time equivalents (FTEs), who would be paid $9.9 million in annual wages, and the stores would generate $4.6 million in annual sales tax on $667 million in gross annual sales.

In 2007, the project was split into two parts, because Target insist on owning the building and real estate of their own stores, so the benefits and liabilities of the project are now split between COR and Target.

For the life of the agreements, both COR and Target are required to submit an annual report to GCEDC on employment.

By the time all of the stores were open in 2009, COR and Target reported a combined 365 FTEs.

As the economy declined after 2009, so did employment, dropping to 341 FTEs in 2011.

After Lowe's closed, the number of FTEs dropped to 270 in 2012.

The bulk of the incentive package for COR (all numbers in this story roll up COR and Target as if it were still a single project) was the property tax abatement.

The abatement is known as a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). 

A PILOT is designed to forgive a portion of property taxes on the increased assessed value on a parcel of real estate that are the result of improvements.

In the case of Batavia Towne Center, as stated above, the property's assessment rose from $1.6 million to $14.5 million.

COR continued to pay property taxes on the original $1.6 million assessed value, but in 2010, when the assessed value jumped so dramatically, it paid no property taxes on that additional $12.9 million in assessed value.

Under state law, fire district taxes cannot be waived, so when the assessed value jumped, so did the amount COR pays for fire services in the Town of Batavia.  Currently, COR and Target pay more than $266,000 annually in fire protection taxes.

Starting in 2011, COR began paying taxes on 20 percent of the increased assessed value, or on $2.6 million of the new additional assessed value.

This year, COR's share jumps to 40 percent of the assessed value.

By 2017, COR will be paying 80 percent of the increase in assessed value and the PILOT expires in 2019, at which point, COR and Target will be paying property taxes on 100 percent of the increased assessed value, or about $4.1 annual in property taxes.

The bulk of those taxes go to the school district with the rest going to the county.  The Town of Batavia currently has a zero property tax rate.

The projected numbers are based on the current assessed value, which is subject to change annually.

For the exemption of the center to accommodate Dick's and other retailers, COR is asking for the PILOT to be amended to cut the taxes on the new assessed value of that portion of the project.

Currently, the portion of the property that contains Lowe's is assessed at $6.9 million.

The improvements will increase the assessment to an estimated $8.6 million.

COR is asking for an amended PILOT just for that parcel that will begin at the 40 percent of increased assessment value and extend the life of the PILOT (just for that parcel) through 2024.

Rather than going up 20 percent every two years, the 40 percent of assessed value would last for three years, then go up to 50 percent for two years, 60 percent for two years, 70 percent for two years and 80 percent for two years.

In 2007, as we reported earlier, the project was only eligible, as a retail project, for tax incentives, because it was declared a "tourist destination."

Under terms of IDA law, a tourist destination is defined as a location that will attract a significant amount of traffic from people living outside of the IDA's service area.

In this case, from outside Genesee County.

The agency also had to find that the project would offer a service not otherwise available to county residents.

In a June 8, 2007 letter, COR's VP and attorney Joseph B. Gerardi, wrote in a letter to Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC:

It is anticipated that the Towne Center will provide economic and/or tourism opportunities for commercial uses not otherwise readily available to residents of the Genesee County Economic Development Region. ... The Towne Center project is also anticipated to retain a significant percentage of the retail sales available in the Economic Development Region that is likely to be leaving the Region, and create additional economic development activity. This is a result of the potential for Towne Center to attract retail sales from counties that are in near proximity to the Region and/or development.

Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock wrote in a letter dated Jan. 2, 2007:

In order to assist the Agency in making such a finding, the Company has represented that the Project is the sole comparably-sized shopping center available to residents of Genesee County and therefore provides a service that would otherwise be unavailable.

Hancock's letter did not address the "tourism destination" designation.

While the project was in development, GCEDC was apparently interested, according to a February, 2007 article in the Batavia Daily News, in adding a multi-screen theater to the project.

COR seemed less than thrilled with the idea, noting that adding theaters would mean less parking, and theater patrons would take up a lot of parking spaces that would otherwise be filled with store shoppers.

The original project proposal also promised restaurants, but none of have been built in the plaza.

COR also promised to plant $200,000 in trees in the parking area.

It's expected that if GCEDC is to grant new tax incentives to COR for Dick's Sporting Goods and other additional retail space, the project will need to be approved as a "tourism destination" and provide goods and services not otherwise available in Genesee County.

In 2005, while discussing sports retail outlets in Forth Worth, Jeff Hennion, then VP of strategic planning for Dick's Sporting Goods, told the Star-Telegram that Dick's wasn't interested in tax incentives for their stores.

"Our goal is to deliver everything at the lowest price," Hennion said. "We really don't feel like we should be using customers' money to build our stores."

UPDATE: Original site plan map added, courtesy COR Developerment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm

GCEDC must find that tourists will flock to Dick's Sporting Goods in order to offer tax breaks to COR

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

Batavia Towne Center -- the location of Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Michael's, Petco and Radio Shack -- is a tourist destination.

It became a tourist destination in 2007 when the board of the Genesee County Economic Development Center voted to proclaim it a tourist destination and Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the Genesee County Legislature, gave the designation her stamp of approval.

Without the designation, the GCEDC could not have awarded -- under state law at the time -- some $4.5 million in tax breaks for COR Development Company to build the retail shopping center.

The law lapsed in 2008, but is back in force this year, just in time for COR to request another $1 million in tax incentives to help lure Dick's Sporting Goods to Batavia.

The Buffalo News reported on the revival of the law last week, noting that it's the intention of the governor's office to crack down on tax incentives for purely retail projects.

Those retail projects were magnets for controversy because critics said they did not generate new wealth within the region, served a strictly local clientele and favored one business over others that were fighting for a piece of a shrinking local retail market.

Among the exceptions to the law banning tax incentives for retail projects is the declaration that the project is, or is part of, a "tourist destination."

The statute is pretty clear that Albany wants these incentives going only to retail projects that will likely "attract a significant number of visitors from outside the economic development region ... "

Who decides if a project is a tourist destination? According to the Govenor's Office, it's purely a local decision.

It's up to the GCEDC board to conduct a public hearing on the topic. After the public hearing, the board votes. If it votes to declare the project a "tourist destination," there's one last step, and that's for the chair of the governing agency -- in this case, Mary Pat Hancock of the County Legislature -- to approve the designation.

There's no other process to confirm the designation nor appeal the decision.  There's nothing in the statute that allows another authority to overrule the local decision.

For her part, Hancock seems quite convinced that Batavia Towne Center is a tourism destination.

Hancock noted that Batavia Towne Center is right next to the Clarion Hotel, with its new water park, conveniently located near the Thruway and there are lots of hotels in the area. Those hotels bring families to town for hockey tournaments and soccer tournaments, and business travelers might bring their families along these days.

And those people, she said, will want convenient shopping in the area.

"We would certainly like to see that empty building (the former Lowe's location) put to good use and see something there that brings people to the area," Hancock said. "It's conveniently located for people who come here and with the price of gas, it's wonderful that people can come here and mix business with pleasure."

Kelly Rapone, head of tourism for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, wanted to emphasize that she's supportive of the proposed project at Batavia Towne Center, but admitted that she's never considered the shopping center a tourism destination and the chamber has never promoted -- as far as she can recall -- the shopping center as a tourism location.

One measure in New York of whether a location is a tourism destination, as established by the promotion campaign "I Love NY," is whether a signficant number of people from more than 50 miles away will travel to the location.

That definition is used in awarding grants to tourism projects, Rapone said.

While the shopping center is good at pulling people from neighboring GLOW counties to Batavia, she isn't sure Batavia Towne Center would measure up to I Love NY's criteria.

"(Batavia Towne Center) is definately an asset to have when people are deciding where to stay while traveling," Rapone said. "They're not going to stay in a hotel when there's nothing around."

She doesn't think, though, that people are going to travel to Batavia and stay in a hotel just to shop at Dick's.

We asked Hancock about a remark by the owner of Barrett's Batavia Marine, Mike Barrett, that tax breaks to COR is like "using your own tax money to put yourself out of business," and Hancock said she certainly hopes that isn't the case.

She doesn't think that's GCEDC's purpose, she said.

"The GCEDC has done great work with our present businesses and works with our businesses to help them expand or move to different locations," Hancock said. "Part of the GCEDC's mission is to retain business and retain jobs and they've been doing a really good job."

LATER THIS WEEK (we hope): Details on the 2007 financial package that helped create Batavia Towne Center.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

GCEDC's books pass independent audit

post by Howard Owens in GCEDC

Press release:

Mostert, Manzanero & Scott, LLP, presented a summary of the audit process undertaken, the scope of their engagement, the findings, and various observations related to GCEDC’s financial position to an open meeting of the Genesse County Economic Development Center Board on March 28th.

The GCEDC Board engaged Mostert, Manzanero, & Scott, LLP, a certified public accounting firm, to perform the audit of 2012 financial statements.  The audit was designed to issue an opinion on the financial statements of the GCEDC for the year ended December 31, 2012; issue a management letter to the Board of Directors and management; and issue a report on internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Government Auditing Standards. 

Included in the management letter is a statement from Mostert, Manzanero, & Scott, LL,P affirming that no material deficiencies in internal controls were identified during their audit. They also affirmed that, in their opinion, the audited financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the GCEDC as of December 31, 2012 in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

“We are confident that the GCEDC internal control policies are functioning correctly and that our finance team monitors the GCEDC finances within the highest accounting principles,” said Shelley Stein, member of the GCEDC Finance Committee. “After reviewing the fiscal standing of the agency and the full audit results, I recommend approval of the 2012 audit and related material.”

The financial statements of the GCEDC are reported using the accrual basis of accounting. Revenues are recorded when earned and expenses are recorded at the time liabilities are incurred, regardless of when the related cash transaction takes place. For example, expenditures are recorded in the period that services are provided, even though corresponding payment for those services may not be made until a later date.

The GCEDC finished 2012 with $590,659 in net operating income. Total operating revenue was up 87 percent over 2011, which was mostly attributable to several noteworthy projects that closed in 2012, including Muller Quaker Dairy, LLC, Perry Vet and Lassister Properties/University Eye.

GCEDC’s year-end net non-operating income, which consists mostly of grant activity, totaled $508,892, up from $4,358 in 2011. Included here is the recognition of grant income from Empire State Development that supports a land purchase at the WNY Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) site. The corresponding expenditure has been capitalized as land held for development and resale on the GCEDC’s balance sheet.

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

If Dick's must come, local sports retailers think the big box store shouldn't benefit from tax breaks

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Dick's Sporting Goods, GCEDC

It's no sure thing that Dick's Sporting Goods is coming to Batavia.

First, there's no official confirmation that Dick's is the client COR Development Company has secured for the former Lowe's location.

Second, Charlie Cook, chairman of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board, said it's far from a done deal that COR will receive more than $1 million in tax incentives to prepare the 138,778-square-foot space for a new tenant, whoever that may be.

If Dick's is the new game in town, local sporting outlets say they're ready for the competition; they just hope it's a level playing field.

The GCEDC board has yet to officially approve a trio of tax incentives for COR. The only action yesterday was to approve a public hearing for the project, which hasn't even been scheduled yet.

The board has been given scant information about COR's plans, Cook said, and without more information, the board isn't ready to act on the proposal.

"There is no commitment from the EDC for any sort of tax breaks or funding and there won’t be until we have a lot more information," Cook said.

This is the first big retail project that has come before the GCEDC board since Cook's been a member, he said, so he wants to educate himself on what projects like this mean for existing businesses before making a decision.

"I’m still learning," Cook said. "I’ve learned some things on the fly here and have been educated a bit on the impacts that some retailers might have that I hadn’t thought of. I haven’t formed an opinion yet."

Two months ago, a source told The Batavian Dick's Sporting Goods was planning a store at the former Lowe's location; however, repeated phone calls and e-mails to Dick's corporate office since then have been ignored by the corporate giant.

Dick's is a publicly traded company founded in Binghamton and now has 511 stores in 44 states. Annual sales in 2011 (the most recent numbers available) were $5.2 billion with a net profit of $1.6 billion, for a profit margin of 30.6 percent.

Those big numbers mean local retailers selling outdoors equipment and sporting goods face competition from a well-financed behemoth with significant market power.

That isn't scaring at least two local retailers who sell some of the same merchandise as Dick's, but the local owners are unhappy that a giant corporation like Dick's could benefit from any tax incentives given to COR.

Mike Barrett likened the practice of using tax incentives going to corporate chains to "using your own tax money to put yourself out of business."

Still, Barrett's Batavia Marine -- founded in 1955 by his father and uncle -- has been in the same location for decades and Barrett has seen a lot of upstarts come and go.

"We can compete in a lot of different levels they can’t," Barrett said. "Price is one thing and service is another. I knew about this coming for about a year, but we’ve outlasted a lot of other people, so … (Barrett shrugged)"

Kurt Fisher, whose store Fisher Sports is less than two years old, thinks he's found a local niche to serve and his new location in the Court Plaza (off Court Street) is doing well.

He isn't even particularly worried about Dick's potential for offering lower prices.

"The bigger issue for us would be they have more opportunity to have more stock because they have more money to bring everything into the store from every company," Fisher said. "We don't have that opportunity. Olympia (on Lewiston Road) doesn't have that opportunity. They (Dick's) can fill the store with everything, but that doens't mean their prices are good. That's their story everywhere. They have full stores but that doesn't mean they have the best price."

Fisher is ready to compete head-to-head with Dick's, but he doesn't think tax incentives should be used to give a big chain an advantage over local businesses.

"For the town and city to do that, it tells me they're more worried about the Big Box people compared to the smaller business people, for sure," Fisher said. "We don't get tax breaks and we're already in business."

Before today, Charlie Cook said he had no idea that Dick's was the potential tenant for COR. He doesn't even know now if the information is true. He said the GCEDC board was told the confidentially agreement prohibited even the GCEDC board being told who the tenant might be at this stage, even in closed session.

Who the tenant is could be critical information for the board to consider before approving incentives for COR, Cook said.

"I am interested in protecting existing businesses," Cook said. "I think when the facts come out, and more names are divulged (there could be more than one retailer moving into the former Lowe's location), if something isn't going to have an impact on local retailers and actually has attributes that benefit the local economy, you have to look at that differently than a business that competes directly with somebody down the street. Until we know more, we can't make that judgement."

Cook also acknowledged that taxpayers may have legitimate concerns to consider about COR receiving new tax incentives after receiving tax incentives in 2007 to construct the curent building for Lowe's, but "what it comes down to is we're staring at a big empty building and how can we put it to the best use."

Premium Drupal Themes