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Give Cabelas Tax Incentives
A Sporting Chance
The nation's largest specialty retailer of hunting, fishing and camping merchandise has determined that a second
The knee-jerk reaction from most of the economic development community, including the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has been refusal. Grand Rapids Business Journal, however, agrees with Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, who is determined to hold discussion on the matter. Sikkema's point that
The first point to be made is definition: Is Cabela's a tourist attraction or a retailer? We know of no other "retailer" drawing more than five million tourists to
Lakeshore tourism groups are likely as celebratory as the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau at the prospect of such a draw, which further matches existing events (including Van Andel Arena concerts) and attractions with yet another type of tourist. The natural tourism lure of the lakeshore is in sync with the Cabela's visitors.
Secondly, Cabela's starts its floor workers at an average wage of $11 to $11.50 per hour and expects to hire 118 full-time and 145 part-time workers. Those rates are significantly higher than those typical of the retail industry, and in fact better than many industrial jobs. Upjohn Institute analysts expect a "conservative" job multiplier of 1.5 to 1.7 for each of the Cabela jobs.
Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy for The Mackinac Center, argues that state business incentives have become political, not economic. The distinction made here is that tax policy in the state is another issue — one that legislators are certainly looking at — in addition to the replacement tax(es) for the Single Business Tax. The state and national regard for needed tax incentives should be a foundation for those discussions.
Upjohn analyst George Erickcek also considers potential losses to other area retailers of similar products, but area residents are accustomed to the "next in line" mentality, not touring, on a normal shopping basis.
Grand Rapids Business Journal urges state officials to give the request consideration rather than ignore it.