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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

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Letter from Pat O'Neill          Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

I was motivated to write this editorial after having a very lengthy conversation this past weekend.

The topic, which brought this issue of concern to me, was tax breaks and incentives for businesses or corporations wanting to build or locate in Lincoln. There are many other factors that go into this, but these are the top two that people seem to want justified, whether or not it was worth the city and county investment or their tax dollars bringing new entities to the communities.

Depending on the company, there are other major issues to consider, like location and how much money is saved in transportation cost by locating in a centralized location such as Logan County. Another factor, mainly dealing in retail establishments, is the market value or demand in this particular area. All the breaks and incentives will not offset the lack of retail sales if no one comes to their stores. A third major factor is housing and school districts in the future site location of prospective investors looking to settle in a community, and yes, believe me, this is really on the top of the list to cooperate America, because many do care for their employees and thus want the best available resources for them and all their families.

Fourth, there is also the competition factor: businesses who like to compete head-to-head with their competitors for business. Fifth, roads and access into or out of proposed sites for development. This is top on the list, in retail especially, as location and access in and out of their establishment for their customer is very important. Sixth, the local media and advertisement market, because all the tax breaks and incentives can't help out if there is not a marketing resource to promote their business.

So, without going into hard-core political reasons to why tax breaks or incentives are done, it is a chance that all communities take, and that is a major investment of local taxpayers' money to bring growth and prosperity to their communities. Nobody knows whether it is the right thing to do for sure, but you can't measure major success in strictly those two areas mentioned above. Besides, there's the sales tax revenue, increased population, a broader tax base to draw from that you hope will come from your investment.

But the one big thing that people tend to never consider or look at, and the main reason for this editorial, is the unbelievable paybacks we received from our investment from these businesses and corporations in the form of charitable donations for a cause! You cannot measure this in money alone. I'll just mention a few off the top of my head as an example of what I'm talking about.

[to top of second column in this letter]

This part, I'll have you take note, has nothing to do with tax breaks or incentives. It's to point out the generosity of corporate America and business in general, and how once they're established in a community, they too make a powerful investment.

Recently Eaton Corp. and the Lincoln IGA have been major players in many, many positive donations that greatly enrich Lincoln. The youth football program benefited with the use of the football field at Eaton, who also is helping the senior transportation at Community Action. And Charlie and Bill at IGA for years have gone out of their way to support all events in Lincoln. Others who can be put into that category are Wal-Mart, who always is a topic of major conversation when choosing or build or locate in a community. Payback is much more, once established, in sales tax revenue and all the enormous charitable contributions they make locally each year.

I won't mention everyone because I know I may miss a few, and there are those who want to remain behind the scenes, but some who need to be noticed are Lincoln College, who helps out in many fundraising events as well as providing input in special occasion celebrations of our community; Sysco Foods, who gladly donates to special causes; Kroger's for years has held fundraising events and in fact encourages employees to get involved with community involvement; Saint-Gobain Containers, who is a strong player in our glass bottle recycling program; Jim Xamis, Graue Chevrolet are well-known for their contributions to their community; Guzzardo's, Sorrento's, Domino's, Papa John's and Bonanza, who never turn down people in the community who come to them for help. These are just a few. Usually there is a long list of donators in the paper with thanks from organizations who benefited from charitable contributions from corporations and businesses who think enough of Lincoln to invest.

So the next time a major project comes to Lincoln or Logan County and your first point of question is why the tax breaks or major incentives package involved, stop to think for one second the enormous benefits we reap in return for our investments. You might really be really amazed to find out that there truly are many things that go into our decisions, but also the fact that many feel the need to give back to the community that opens their arms to them. And the ones that didn't receive any incentives give of themselves because of their love and belief that their community is a great place to live and raise a family. And families help each other.

Pat O'Neill

(The above is a transcription of a handwritten article.)

[Posted September 12, 2007]

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