Recently, Mike Hynes, sent a Letter to the Editor, supporting the city of Branson’s use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to enable, assist, and subsidize a new business, “Branson Adventures (BA).” The TIF will enable BA to directly compete, with the shows, attractions, and lodging establishments, that are the current economic base of Branson, for the business and time of Branson visitors, when it would not even be in business, “but for” such help.”
Hynes states, “Having only a small percentage of a multi-million dollar income is better than having 100 percent of just a few thousand-dollar income?” To an Ole Seagull, in the case of the BA TIF, he believes with all his heart, that it’s so much more than about money. It’s about the character, spirit, and soul of what makes Branson the special place it is to live, visit, and operate a business. Someone a lot wiser than an Ole Seagull said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
What does it say about a city, that would enable, assist and subsidize direct targeted competition, that would not otherwise be there, against the existing businesses making up its tourist based economic foundation. These include hotels, campgrounds, water parks, zip line, mountain slides, shows and other attractions? “But Seagull, look at the revenue BA is promising, the 600,000 new visitors each year, the 900 new jobs etc.”
In terms of BA’s claims, they are coming from a source that will not even be in business, but for the city’s enablement, assistance, and subsidization and, at the end of the day, are but estimates of what may happen if the TIF is granted. Even, if they are right from an economic sense, is there not a point where we say, “The almighty dollar doesn’t come before basic fairness, appreciation, and decency.”
The typical retail TIF impacts a large number of businesses, which are patronized by locals and tourists alike. The combined large customer pool of locals and tourists, each probably shopping at different retail establishments during a specific period of time, helps spread and mitigate the potential impact of the TIF. In terms of tourists, it can be said, “There’s more than one chance to get their business while in Branson.
The BA TIF, on the other hand will impact directly on a targeted segment of Branson’s businesses, including hotels, campgrounds, water parks, zip lines, mountain slides, and other attractions. Those tourist related activities, patronized primarily by tourists, not locals, generally have one shot at getting the customer’s business. As a rule, their potential customers are only going to stay at one hotel, go to one water park, ride one mountain coaster or zipline etc. In addition, although to a lesser extent, every Branson show, attraction, and restaurant competes for some of the limited time that each Branson visitor is in town.
None of the existing tourism businesses, that the Ole Seagull is aware of, have a problem with fair competition; it’s part of doing business. He can however, understand their consternation and concern, when that competition comes from a source, like BA, that would not even be there but for the enablement, assistance, and subsidization of the very city they pay taxes to and have put their money, time, sweat, and effort into helping make the wonderful tourist destination that it is.
An Ole Seagull just has to ask, “For what does it profit Branson to gamble on millions while throwing the people and businesses that brought it to the dance under the bus?”