Tampa, Florida -- After a two-year battle, Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 6-to-1 Wednesday to spend $6.25 million on road improvements to help bring a Bass Pro Shops store to the county.
The new 150,000-square-foot store will be located on Falkenburg Road just south of Highway 60 in Brandon.
"We're hoping to have this store open in 2014, probably in the fall," said Bass Pro Shops Director of Real Estate Michael Dunham after the vote.
However, many locally-owned outdoor retailers are not pleased with the deal the county made to bring Bass Pro to town.
"I just feel as a taypayer myself it just kills me to see my tax dollars going to fund a competitor," said Bill Place, the owner of Ace Golf.
"The fact that they are coming in on our dime is what really upsets me and other small business owners in the area," added Kelly Morris the owner of Simple Life Outfitters.
Even Commissioner Kevin Beckner expressed concern believing the county could be headed down a slippery slope.
"My question is where does this stop? Where do we draw the line and say you know what, your project makes sense but I'm sorry we don't have public dollars to give you?" he said.
But it was the numbers laid out by Commissioner Ken Hagan that convinced five other board members that Bass would be a great asset.
During Wednesday's board meeting, Hagan again stressed Bass would create 1,700 construction jobs while creating 1,300 permanent jobs. He said the project would generate millions in property and sales taxes and have an annual economic impact of $113 million.
"It is impossible to reach any other conclusion other than this is an extraordinary economic development opportunity," Hagan told the board.
Hagan also said the money for the road improvements would be repaid to the county within four years.
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