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Eye on Frisco: Retail needs a boost

I have spoken to many of Frisco’s business-owners in the past few weeks. It should come as no surprise that, with few exceptions, they are hurting.

As most of you know, sales taxes generated by our retail and restaurant businesses are the main source of the revenue supporting town of Frisco operations.

If those folks are thriving, the town thrives. It’s just that simple.



Right now, those folks aren’t thriving. As a result, the town’s sales tax revenues were down 14.68 percent in January compared to January 2002. January 2002, by the way, was not a great month. The town’s Real Estate Investment Fees, the other major source of Frisco’s revenue, were down 11.08 percent in January 2003 compared to the same month in 2002.

The real estate fees are generated by a 1 percent assessment on property sales.



This downward revenue trend is not new. When I pointed it out in an article a year or so ago, someone, in a letter to the editor, accused me of using “scare tactics.” I am not trying to scare anybody. I do feel, however, an informed appreciation of reality will help those who live and work in Frisco understand in the months ahead the steps that must be taken for the town to live within its means if this unfavorable trend continues.

Government can do only so much to assist our sales-tax-generating businesses. One thing we can do is devise means of attracting more visitors to our town – visitors who will buy in our stores and eat in our restaurants. To that end, the town council, at its March 18 meeting, directed the town manager to take the steps necessary to erect poles along Main Street and Highway 9 south of Interstate 70 from which banners announcing town events can be hung in advance of those events.

Some council members believed banners would detract from the image of Frisco, but the majority felt that doing what we can to help our businesses – and our town – in these tough economic times outweighed concern about image.

The banners are not a new idea. The resurrection of their consideration started at a recent Fiesta Frisco meeting and was later favorably endorsed by the restaurateurs at a Breakfast with Briley meeting last month, and then recently by the executive board of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. The town hopes to be get the poles erected in the next two months, so banners can be hung in advance of this summer’s events.

Speaking of retail businesses, in a recent interview in another local newspaper, one of our residents, known for not being an admirer of Wal-Mart, stated that the Target Corp. gives $2 million a year to local communities and said, or implied, that Wal-Mart, by contrast, comes up short in that area.

I do not know the reliability of the gentleman’s Target information. However, I was informed by the manager of our local Wal-Mart store after the interview was published that the Wal-Mart Corp. gave $167 million last year to communities in which its stores are located. He also informed me that, in addition to the corporation’s donations, local stores give money to the communities in which they are located in amounts based upon the production of the stores.

As a matter of fact, at the March 11 grand opening of our local Wal-Mart’s renovation, I watched as the manager, Robert Ownbey, presented checks totaling more that $10,000 to about a half a dozen Summit County nonprofits.

When I addressed the gathering, I complimented Robert and his Wal-Mart associates for all the work they had done on the renovation and on the result of their efforts.

I also told them I would continue to shop at Wal-Mart. I like their everyday low prices, to coin a phrase, and I know when I shop at our Wal-Mart, I am supporting Frisco. Wal-Mart, as many of you know, has been supporting Frisco as our primary sales tax generator since it opened some 15 years ago.

It seems to me the least I can do is support the Frisco businesses which have been, and continue, to support the town. I encourage all Frisco residents to do likewise. As I said earlier, when our businesses thrive, Frisco thrives.

One casualty of the current economic ills is Moose Creek Outfitters at the corner of 5th Street and Main. This attractive store is in the process of liquidating its stock, and it will be closing sometime in the coming months.

To add insult to injury, some nut stole the whimsical moose chainsaw carving that sat on a pedestal at the corner just outside the store’s main entrance.

Fortunately, the Frisco Police Department recovered the moose, and it will be placed back where it belongs in the near future. The thief is still on the loose.

I salute Roland and Debbie Black whose Frisco business, Quality Quick Print, recently was selected by the Summit County Chamber of Commerce as its Small Business of the Year for the year 2002.

Finally, the town council at its last meeting approved an Adopt a Garden concept proposed by Frisco’s Public Works Department. As the name implies, the concept will encourage groups of “green-thumbed” Frisco residents to help the Public Works Department design and maintain selected flower gardens located in Frisco.

Rosemary Lokie, the owner of City Gardeners – a Frisco business – and one of her employees have already started adoption procedures. For more information or to volunteer to participate in this new program, either individually or as part of a group, please contact the Frisco Public Works Department at (970) 668-0836.

The writer is mayor of Frisco. He writes about twice a month on issues facing Frisco.


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