Economic development? It is in our hands

Yesterday’s grand opening of Opry Mills certainly tickled the fancy of shoppers throughout the region. To be honest, I’m happy the mall has recovered from the 2010 floods, and I hope it has a long, prosperous future bringing a positive impact throughout the region. The mall pre...
Mar 30, 2012

Yesterday’s grand opening of Opry Mills certainly tickled the fancy of shoppers throughout the region. To be honest, I’m happy the mall has recovered from the 2010 floods, and I hope it has a long, prosperous future bringing a positive impact throughout the region.

The mall presents a unique problem for Wilson County, however.

Premium Outlets, located in Lebanon, benefitted from the closing of Opry Mills. Several stores relocated to the outlet mall, and sales tax revenue increased in Wilson County because of it. It has been a strong benefit to the region, and we should all want to see that benefit remain in place.

In recent weeks, Democrat Reporter Sabrina Garrett has written two stories about the reopening and its impact on Lebanon and Wilson County. I have to tell you, something is bugging me.

That something is I’m not seeing a real plan for keeping Premium Outlets premium.

The most recent story included interviews with PR representatives of Simon Properties, which owns both Opry Mills and Premium Outlets.

The professional quoted spoke of synergy as an explanation of how Premium Outlets will remain as strong as it is, even with the re-opening of a major shopping destination.

Synergy. Hmmm. I just don’t buy synergy as a strategy.

That said, I think two things are important to realize. Simon Properties will want both properties to be successful. And Simon has invested a heck of a lot into the reopening of Opry Mills and that will be their focus for a while.

It is also important that nobody has outlined a plan to keep Premium Outlets as viable as possible.

So here’s my idea.

The next time you are making a shopping list, ask yourself a question: Can I buy this in Wilson County? If the answer is no, then obviously you have to go elsewhere.

If the answer is yes, at least give the local merchant an opportunity to win your business.

Now, there is a reason to my madness and it isn’t just a shameless desire for more local advertising in the paper, though I won’t complain if we get more.

Rather, there is a real impact to keeping your dollars right here in Wilson County.

Just recently, my wife and I spent a great day running around a couple of weeks ago. We ate at Bluemoon Barbecue, purchased a few books at Betty’s Books & Things and ran in Staples for some office supplies. After enjoying some great local fare at the recent Wilson/Lebanon Chamber of Commerce open house, my wife and I (OK, mostly my wife) picked up some bows for our nieces at The Paper Mill.

The simple fact is just about everything you need is right here at home – including a great “mall” at Premium Outlets if you need your mall fix. Throughout Lebanon are wonderful businesses that can sell you quality merchandise, help you find a good bargain, get a haircut, get your car fixed, or just about anything else that crosses your mind.

I once read that every dollar you spend in your hometown circulates seven times before leaving the local market. That’s like spending your dollar seven times, and it is a great benefit to the local market.

But there’s more.

How many stores at Opry Mills or Green Hills will sponsor a Wilson County youth sports team? Are they going to join the local Rotary, attend the Civic League Dinner, or participate in the roasting of Sue Vanatta?

Doubtful, but your local businesses support these and other worthy local causes every single day.

Without your support, they won’t be able to continuing supporting these and many other local groups and organizations, all of which do great work throughout the community.

The Wilson County businesses – including the chains and the shops at Premium Outlets – give your kids their first jobs.

They provide good careers to your neighbors and friends. They offer far more opportunities to the families of Wilson County than any out-of-county shopping center.

And for those reasons, they deserve our loyalty.

I know, I know. “But Clay, Opry Mills has a Bass Pro Shop. They have a Michael Kors.”

Tust me, I LOVE Bass Pro Shop; it is a fantastic store with a huge unique stock. My wife has nothing but great things to say about Michael Kors. These are great shops and you very well may spend a few bucks there. I know that nobody spends every penny in Wilson County and I don’t do it either, so I have to admit I don’t fully practice what I preach. I can be found spending my money downtown and in other areas of Middle Tennessee on a regular basis. But the question frequently enters my mind, “Can I buy this here?”

We cannot rely on Simon Properties, President Obama, Governor Romney or the tooth fairy to boost our economy. That is purely in our hands.

After all, nobody else is looking out for our Wilson County businesses, so we should. And the simple fact is this – shopping at home is the best economic stimulus plan money can buy.

You may reach Clay Morgan by calling 444-3952, ext. 13, or on his cell at 615-670-6989. His email address is claymorgan@lebanondemocrat.com.

 

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