In a recent letter, a writer condemned the proposed Family Dollar Store, regurgitating the same old theme that Ridgway should remain unchanged. The claim was that Ridgway is a wonderful place where mostly retired folks live and we only want businesses owned by local citizens. Like Camelot, that is a place that once was and will never be again. It is not Ridgway today and those arguments are simply incorrect, unrealistic, and inappropriate.
The basic facts are that the population is widely varied, as reflected by the large numbers of families with young children. Even more telling, the income levels are much lower than the author apparently realizes. Ouray County is hurting. According to recent statistics, our unemployment rate is above the national average and our median income is below the national average. There are a lot of families struggling to make ends meet and having a store like Family Dollar means they can shop here rather than spend the gas money to drive to Montrose.
Economic Development has arrived in Ouray County. Its purpose is to attract new businesses, provide economic diversity, increase local employment, and benefit the community at large. To understand that, let’s compare the facts related to the Family Dollar Store.
Economic development is not limited to locally owned businesses. Rather, it is just the opposite. To attract new businesses to Ouray County means that most will be businesses from other locations that will expand into Ouray County.
In the past five years, most of the new locally owned businesses have not been opened for people who live Ridgway, but to serve the tourist trade and most of them have failed.
Though it may be an out of state company, Family Dollar will generate substantial financial benefit to Ridgway and Ouray County. First, the construction will employ numerous workers who will be from Ouray County and if not, stay and do business locally. That will provide a nice, albeit short-term boost to our local economy.
After the store is finished, Family Dollar will employ five to seven workers. That will likely result in the addition of over $120,000 of income a year to local residents. Most of this will be spent locally for food, rent, and what have you. Further, Family Dollar can be expected to generate substantial gross sales and that will yield significant sales tax revenue, a portion of which will ultimately be paid to our local governments. With property tax revenues down, that money is sorely needed and will benefit everyone in the county.
The complaint that this is not the quality of merchandise that some folks would like is equally invalid is but a snobbish argument. Many people will not shop there and the company knows that. But it also knows that there are sufficient people locally who will shop at Family Dollar, making Ridgway a viable business location.
In the final analysis, Ridgway needs every new job it can get, that there are plenty of people who would shop at Family Dollar, and can really use the tax dollars. The town has changed and Family Dollar is exemplary of that change. It is a store for a wide segment of our community and not just for the tourists. The benefits it will generate for the community are most welcome and badly needed.
– Irwin J. Borof