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Editorials

BASS Pro good catch for Hillsborough County

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 02:52 AM

Although Hillsborough County commissioners need to scrutinize all the particulars, it appears the county has fashioned a responsible deal to bring Bass Pro Shops here.

The 150,000-square-foot outdoors shop would give a boost to the economy, generating an estimated 1,700 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs at the store and related operations.

The cost to the county for this catch will be $8.25 million, but this will be spent on road improvements, not as a cash incentive to Bass Pro.

This seems reasonable, particularly since the county would realize that expenditure in property and sale taxes within five years. The development is projected to generate $2.6 million in county taxes a year on a tract that now produces $44,000.

The county in all likelihood would eventually undertake such road improvements. Spending the money now is a small concession and far different than a direct payout.

Bass Pro Shops are considered "destination retail" complexes, which attract visitors from other counties — the reason many communities are willing to offer generous subsidies to attract the company. County Commissioner Ken Hagan says some governments have given as much as $40 million to Bass Pro.

The shop will be, as the Tribune's Michael Sasso reports, part of a major retail, hotel and entertainment complex called the Estuary. The location is between Interstate 75 and Falkenburg Road, a readily accessible site.

Operators of other outdoors shops can rightly claim that government is providing Bass Pro an unfair advantage. But Bass Pro promises to give Hillsborough an economic boost few projects can.

And Bass Pro officials say their operations actually increase the outdoor-equipment business for everyone. Perhaps. We do suspect the massive store won't threaten smaller operations that have built strong relations with customers through the years.

Commissioners, scheduled to review the proposal Wednesday, need to be diligent. But there is little doubt landing Bass Pro would a coup for the county and add some firepower to the local economy.

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