In May of this year, Garden City added the Menards store to it's list of community businesses, a list, many Dodge City residents envy and ask... why not Dodge?
The Globe met with Joann Knight, Dodge City Ford County Development Corp.
Executive Director Monday afternoon to answer inquiring minds with a similar question and Knights response was simple, "In order to get retailer developers to build here, we need to do more local shopping."
Local shopping, Knight says, is something Dodge City has struggled with and it's an 'extreme detriment to our community when Dodge City residents don't shop local'.
"When Menards finally answered to us they said their decision to build in Garden City came down to Garden City's sales tax being higher then Dodge City," Knight said. "Developers look at numbers and they can tell by tracking who Garden City customers were, that Dodge City people will and do go to Garden City to shop...When they look at their numbers and the pull their demographics they use to make their decision on what community around the world they want to make their investment, they look at where people are shopping."
Knight said that every time Dodge City residents shop in another community, it increases that communities sales, consequently, increasing sales tax which then allows that community to re-invest in themselves.
"When you're not shopping and spending in your own community, you're hurting existing local business' that have invested here," she said. "Your local business' that want to make a living, that want to employ people and want to pay taxes and make your community strive and when you shop somewhere else, you are decreasing the amount of sales tax that the county and city are collecting, making it difficult to re-invest as well."
But according to the Development Director not all is bad news. While Dodge City may flaw in attracting retail business' , it has surpassed Finney County in job growth.
According to a Kansas Department of Labor report, Dodge City has increased 13.1 percent in job creation compared to 5 percent in Finney County.
"As an economic development group, we focus primarily on job creation," Knight said. "One of the things we have been very successful in is in the expansion of existing industries and housing, we've had great success in getting housing developers here. We have to look at all those different areas to say: Are we successful, are we not?."
Community Support is Key
Making Dodge City and attractive area for retail developers is going to have to be a community-wide project, according to Knight.
If local businesses don't offer a sought after product, Knight says oppose to being discouraged, Dodge Citians need to 'make more of an effort'.
Page 2 of 2 - "If there's something that you really want I would suggest you go to the business and ask them to get it for you," She said. "It's extremely expensive for business to keep inventory, communication is a lot of that as well. I'm not saying it's going to solve everything 100% but we must try local first."
"Realize that every time you spend money in another community you're not only hurting local retailers, you're hurting their employees which could be your kids, spouse etc.."Knight added."Owning a business is not an easy thing, they have a lot invested in trying to provide a service for here and they really do need to the local community in doing that. It all comes down to investing in our community, If we don't invest in ourselves, why would we expect anyone else to? "
Knight said it will take that 'first box that makes that investment to be here' so that other retails will cluster around it.
"Bottom line is, In order to get this major retail developer here it's going to take harder sales tax numbers and community support."