From the Mayor -- 03/23/2016

Reprinted by permission from the Independence Daily Reporter 

One pessimistic Independence resident recently said to me, “Independence will be a ghost town in five years.” While I suppose that outcome is technically possible, I believe that decision is totally up to us. 

There’s nothing more important to our future growth than our current investment in the community. It requires new investments to grow our business levels and thus our population. According to the manager of our new Braum’s, the store’s sales have increased more than 50 percent since opening their new store. When Taco Bell built its new restaurant, business levels increased dramatically. Since the Schraders updated our movie theater with new “best in class” seating, ticket sales have already increased by 50 percent and the theater is on track to have its best March in eight years.  

Local investment today means growth tomorrow. If we’re not growing today, that means we weren’t investing adequately in the community five and 10 years ago.

And your investment doesn’t have to be large. If you personally make a decision to shop in town at our local stores, that investment also leads to future growth. Making more local purchases leads to more jobs here, and more sales tax revenues here. Every decision you make to shop here, or eat at a restaurant here, will lead to growth.  

When my wife and I researched new kitchen appliances, we looked over the selection at Nebraska Furniture Mart while we were in Kansas City. We chose our favorites and noted the brands, model numbers and prices. Then we came home to Independence and gave Leslie at Sears a list of our favorites. Even though she didn’t carry the brands or models we wanted, she was able to get them for us anyway, at a great price--far cheaper than Nebraska Furniture Mart if you include the delivery charges from Kansas City. Needless to say, we bought them from our local Sears, and got free delivery and setup as part of the deal.

One woman recently told me she never shops in town, but always drives to Tulsa to shop at Sam’s. Having never been to Sam’s, I asked her, “Isn’t that just a big Walmart?” Her answer was, “Yes, it’s like a Walmart on steroids.” I wanted to ask (but didn’t) if it was really worth the cost of gas, the value of her time, the wear on her car, and the hassle of driving in Tulsa traffic to shop at a “Walmart on steroids” as opposed to our local, normal-sized Walmart.

If she were to make her $200 purchase at our local Walmart instead, the city would receive $4 in sales tax revenue, and the school district would receive another $2. These funds help to maintain our roads and pay for police and fire and other city services. Her purchase also helps to keep people employed at our local Walmart (which has 250 to 300 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the city) instead of creating jobs in Tulsa.  

Ghost town, or Boom town? No one else can make that decision except us. 

Mayor Gary Hogsett