Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportunity (BREO)
WHITMAN COUNTY CITIZENS GROUP SUPPORTS BOND MEASURE FOR HAWKINS INFRASTRUCTURE
PULLMAN, WA, January 11, 2008 – A group of Whitman County business owners and residents has endorsed a proposed 30-year, $10.5 million bond issue to provide infrastructure to the 700,000 square foot retail project being developed by the Hawkins Companies of Boise.
Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportunity (BREO), a grassroots group that advocates economic development in Whitman County, believes that the Hawkins project is vital to the future of the county. “Our answer to a growing demand for retail services in Whitman County cannot continue to be ‘Go shop in Moscow, Lewiston, Clarkston, or Spokane instead,’” said April Coggins, BREO co-chair and a Pullman businesswoman. Coggins referred to a 2006 study for the Moscow Chamber of Commerce conducted by University of Idaho economist Steven Peterson. Peterson found that Whitman County had a net retail sales leakage of $158.4 million for 2004 ($95.5 million from Pullman and $62.9 million from Rural Whitman County) to neighboring cities.
BREO contends that, in addition to costing jobs and opportunity, lack of retail takes precious tax dollars away from financially struggling Whitman County. “Voters no doubt remember recently raising the sales tax to cover expenses for the county jail and emergency communications,” continued Coggins, “I’m sure folks most would agree that funding vital services through new business growth is preferable to increasing taxes.”
BREO is urging citizens to make comments in support of the bond proposal Monday, January 14, from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM during the county commission meeting at the Public Service Building auditorium, N. 310 Main Street, Colfax, and again at the meeting on Tuesday, January 22. When the infrastructure bond is paid off, Hawkins conservatively estimates its development will contribute approximately $1.8 million a year in sales and tax property taxes to the county. Coggins stated, “That is money that can be used to help every town in Whitman County, from Hooper to Palouse and from Rosalia to Uniontown.”
Coggins called again for the City of Moscow to drop the appeals it has filed with the Washington Pollution Control Hearing Board regarding water rights transfers sought by Hawkins. “It’s clear Moscow’s appeals are not about water but about keeping out particular kinds of businesses,” concluded Coggins. “That attitude was rejected by Moscow voters in November and it is our hope that the new Moscow City Council will see things differently and seek to cooperate with their neighbors.” BREO has started a petition it plans to deliver to the Moscow City Council at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/breo/.
ABOUT BUSINESSES & RESIDENTS FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY (BREO) - BREO was formed in October 2005 to support free enterprise, business growth and healthy competition in Whitman County, Washington.