Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In Summit County, Another Economic Development Deal Bites the Dust

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2007 at 2:27 PM

You’d think the guys running Summit County were taking their economic development cues from Cuyahoga. Exhibit A: Their two biggest plans to date. Last December, former County Executive James McCarthy announced that the county would be investing in a $327 million professional soccer stadium. McCarthy believed the stadium would be a “destination location” that would attract outsiders to surrounding businesses. Unfortunately, he kinda forgot about the obvious: That soccer’s never been a big draw in these parts – especially of the $327 million variety – and that sports stadiums never create the surrounding development that esteemed consultants incessantly predict. The county, it seems, would be better off building something as specialized as an 180,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop. Which brings us to our next point. In April, Summit began courting Bass Pro, which submitted plans for a $50 million store in East Akron that would sell everything from ginormous aquariums to hunting rifles. The principle behind such a megastore is not to survive solely off local consumers, but to draw from a regional, even multi-state area. The problem was that there are already Brass Pro Shops in Toledo and Cincinnati – essentially cutting off traffic from the southern and western parts of Ohio. The County Council approved a $1.5 million sales-tax rebate. The city of Akron also threw in a nice property tax abatement. Yet fate intervened this week, when Bass Pro killed its plans for the Akron store, saying it just didn’t have the clientele in these parts to support it. Maybe now the county -- as well as the city of Akron – can start focusing on projects that will actually reach fruition. – Denise Grollmus

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