Our story this week on the Wegmans proposed for Chapel Hill generated many comments on editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook, including about the role of economic incentives. Mark wrote:
Today’s top story: Chapel Hill and Orange County have offered Wegmans a $4 million incentive if the company creates 185 full-time jobs and 413 part-time jobs over five years and meets annual property and sales tax revenue goals ... which, I don’t know, seems like a lot for a grocery store?
Here is what some of you said.
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W.b. Isley: I think Wegmans is like Costco as far as places to work for. All jobs can be good jobs with the right company. It might be just a grocery store, but honestly Chapel Hill needs more jobs that don’t require post graduate work.
Desiree Goldman: We have a huge shortage of jobs for high school kids and other people without college degrees in our area. This can be a great employer. Also Wegmans’ reputation will bring people to Chapel Hill who will go to restaurants and shop other places. This will be great for our town
Ron Cooley: It is STUPID to pay any corporation to locate in your town. If there is a profit to be made, they will locate there anyway. If the profit is so marginal that only incentives will get them to locate there, chances are not good they will stay.
Jack Wolf: I am not opposed to incentives, but for a grocery store? People in Chapel Hill need to buy groceries somewhere, and that will provide whatever amount of jobs that result from that. If the market demands a new store that would profit, it will happen without tax breaks. Now if Wegmans was opening a corporate headquarter that would be another thing. Or if this was in an area that strongly needed a store, [but this is] where now there is already a Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.
Charles Humble: Wegmans may be great, but can this end of town support another grocery store without damaging the Food Lion that never seems to take off and the Harris-Teeter, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s jus down the street?
Vicki Vars Boyer: South Durham shoppers will come to Wegmans. People visiting for UNC games will shop the on their way out of town. It will not be dependent upon one side of Chapel Hill; that’s why they would locate near an I-40 exit. They probably do catering as well which will be supported by UNC and Duke.
Rebekah Radisch: When we travel up to Yankeeland, we now plan our midpoint stop for Wegmans, so this North Durhamite will definitely travel to Chapel Hill for Wegmans (begrudgingly, because it should be going into the Northgate Mall area, but maybe Durham doesn’t throw millions in incentives at grocery stores). And, btw, that Food Lion is just in the wrong part of town...
Aaron Martin Nelson: The incentive is not just for the grocery store, but also for the environmental clean up and redevelopment of a brown field (the performance site has been auto and auto mechanic related for 60-plus years). We don’t have to look far to the old Crown Honda just down the street to see what happens to abandoned car dealerships. Imagine that on the Performance site for a decade or longer. To to get someone to invest in the site and do the environmental remediation, we are offering a carrot. Additionally, the incentive is not paid by the tax payers but instead is related to the taxes the redevelopment will generate. If the redevelopment happens the town and the county come out ahead. Further, I have seen the projected wages and benefits and they are substantial.
Allen Spalt: It is outrageous to provide millions in subsidy to a grocery store – as if we were a food desert. Grocery stores abound in our area even if Wegmans is a good one. The argument that the public should pick up the cost of environmental clean up for a series of private businesses that should have known better – for at least the last 30 to 40 years – is also an outrage. Why should they walk away from contamination they profited from? This is public private “partnership” at its worst.
Marc Pons: Do we want to risk this property sitting vacant and dilapidated like the last two dealerships that left town, Crown Volvo and Yates Chrysler? It’s well worthit to bring a best-in-class employer to town.
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