Our view: Development incentive
by Daily Mountain Eagle
Oct 21, 2012 | 888 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During a recent work session, the Jasper City Council discussed increasing the amount of money given to a developer planning to bring in three national retailers. Though city leaders had agreed on $1.5 million in incentives, representatives with the development firm say they need a total of $3 million to fill a construction shortfall.

The incentive concerns the renovation of the old Goody's building at Jasper Square.

Everyone present at the work session recognized the great relationship the city leaders have with the Birmingham firm, Blackwater Resources, but they also expressed concern about the financial burden the incentive package would place on the city. The annual payment on a $3 million line of credit, paid back over 10 years, would be about $450,000.

A nearly half-million-dollar payment is a tall order for a city with total annual revenues around $20 million.

Jasper's retail recruiter Don Goetz was right when he said this development could be a tipping point for Jasper. Having the three retailers could signify to other companies that this area is fertile for new businesses, and losing the three stores could be equally as discouraging for businesses considering a location in Jasper.

As important as it is to attract these three national retailers, we feel $3 million is simply too big of a gamble for the City of Jasper. Even if the development hits the sales that its planners are shooting for, the payments for the $3 million loan would still be huge when compared to the tax revenue generated from the stores.

The council and the city's leaders have been incredibly generous when it comes to offering incentives to attract businesses, and we hope some compromise can be reached between the City of Jasper and Blackwater Resources. But we think it needs to be much more toward the $1.5 million side.

Regardless of the decision made about the incentive, there is a way that Jasper residents can attract businesses while few tax dollars: start shopping in Jasper more.

- Daily Mountain Eagle