I want to share an article I read in Larry Beckham's newsletter. It's a very good article and points out some flaws that can exist in any municipality. The article is written by Gordon Norris, a gentleman I do not know. However, because of his business background in a business I know a little about, I can say he is most qualified to write such an article. I am not sure we agree on all things, however he touches upon two things that I feel needs airing. One of those "things" is petty bureaucratic rules making, to which Mr. Norris refers. Another is a town's reputation and perception by the business community. It too is equally important. On these issues, Mr. Norris and I wholeheartedly agree. Read the article, then think about Rowlett's recent past with Rowlett 2020. It should be enlightening. Specifically, what do you believe developer's think about Rowlett?......I know we have a relationship with a favored few, but I also know that developers and engineers dislike Rowlett for business in significant numbers. I feel Mr. Norris touches upon some of those reasons.
In a senior news letter you mentioned that Fuddruckers is building in Rockwall. Have you noticed that the big chains with larger restaurants go to Rockwall not Rowlett? There is a reason for that, an being an executive recruiter in the food service industry, I can tell you that large chain restaurants have a successful business model and they will not vary it to meet a city’s idiosyncrasies or politics. IE Dairy Queen, size of customer parking spots. Large chains have a business model that has proved successful and changing it reduces their chances of success. Companies risk of hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars in buildings, equipment, training, etc and they are not willing to take that risk of a changed business model because of an inflexible city. The success percentage of large chains and franchises with proven business models is about 95% through the first 5 years and the success rate for independent business and restaurants is about 10% through the first 5 years with most failing in the first year. You only have to remember the restaurants that have opened and closed fairly rapidly to know this is true. Larger chain restaurants companies decide each year how many new restaurants they want to open during the year and maintain a list by city where they would like to build new restaurants.
For example if a large chain company wants to open 200 new restaurants this year they will pick 250 prospect cities and start to negotiate with the cities at the top of the list. If a city is unreasonable, inflexible, is not will to share start up cost through tax breaks, or wants changes in their proven business model, building, etc the company disqualifies the city and moves on to the next city on the list. When a city like Rowlett gets to the ridiculous point by tightly controlling businesses through zoning, regulations and laws affecting the companies successful business model by being ridiculous and inflexibly even down to the size of parking spaces, even when the companies idea is better, they build a negative reputation in the larger business community. I am sure you are not surprised that these growing expanding companies speak to each other about cities they have disqualified from their prospective building list and many other companies delete that city from their prospects list.
I am sure Rowlett’s reputation for being negative towards larger business and industry is well known. The city politicians think Rowlett’s problem is IMAGE which has become an obsession with them. They keep pouring more money into what they think will improve the cities image and change the cities large business reputation but that is not the problem. The problem is negative politics and policies towards larger business and industry and the Rowlett Politicians determination to continually spend money they do not have which leads to higher taxes and Bond indebtedness. What large business wants to go to a city where their tax rate is presently #21 highest of 31 local cities and with the proposed tax increases and bond issue I am sure Rowlett will have the highest tax rate of the 31 cities? What business wants to build in a city that has the highest tax rate of 31 local cities? Alarmingly when the politicians sent out their package of graphs and pie charts and they felt being # 21 of the highest tax rates was good. Maybe they should look at it that Rowlett has a tax rate that is in the upper third of the 31 local cities and soon to be the highest tax rate of 31 local cities. The Rowlett Politicians would have some thing to be proud of if Rowlett was in the lower 5 for tax rates of the 31 cities. If the Rowlett Politicians want to do something to attract larger business and industry don’t raise the taxes and don’t float bond issues; live within the cities income and cut expenses and the size of the city government and employees to meet that income level. WHAT AN OPENING PITCH TO A PROSPECTIVE BUSINESS “We had a monetary short fall because of the economy but instead of raising taxes and floating bond issues the city decided to live within its income and made the cuts and changes to make sure that happened” Companies understand that type of thinking and want to be in cities with that attitude. Of course that is not the way Rowlett politicians and their groupies think.
They have their vision of IMAGE which they think will solve everything and they do not care how many tax raises they have to vote in or how many bond issues they have to put through what ever it takes including deception, using old more favorable figures (your 2 cents), and with disregard for who it hurts. Don’t mess with the plan it has a momentum of its own and it will run over you!!!