, Muskogee, OK

March 7, 2013

Grocery study needs to be bagged

— Funding a study to tell retailers they can make money in Muskogee is a waste of taxpayer money.

Muskogee city councilors recently approved $25,000 to fund a supermarket analysis and development of a public education campaign.

The study presumably would prove to potential grocery store chains that Muskogee needs another grocery store.

Studies have shown Muskogee spends $138 million per year in other cities for groceries.

That much “leakage” indicates Muskogee has an opportunity for another grocery store to serve the needs of those who shop out of town.

The question is, “why is the city paying for the study?”

A Texas developer told City Manager Greg Buckley that one of the greatest challenges to opening a new market was a lack of funding for site studies.

Site studies seem like the job of entrepreneurs, not our city government.

Twenty-five thousand dollars to determine what niche a grocery store could fill is a lot of money. That money could be spent on fixing roads or keeping street lights on longer, or dozens of other things that would help improve the quality of life in Muskogee right now.

A public education campaign to tell people why they should shop in Muskogee is another waste.

Most people shop where they shop because they like the selection, the prices, the quality of service — not because they are loyal citizens.

Muskogee would be a better place if more people shopped here. That would raise more sales tax revenue for city coffers.

More sales tax revenue means more services, better roads, etc., for Muskogee citizens.

Governments do spend money to lure businesses.

They offer tax breaks or discounts on the purchase of land or spend money building up infrastructure.

Twenty-five thousand dollars to lure another business that would add to our sales tax base would be money well spent.

But if the city is just going to spend more money on more studies, then just cut out the middle man and fix the roads.