Bloomington approves tax incentive to lure Ashley Furniture

By Joe Bennett

June 11, 2012 Updated Jun 11, 2012 at 10:37 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill -- The Bloomington City Council has approved a tax incentive to bring Ashley Furniture to the city.

Dozens of residents appeared before the council Monday night objecting the city manager's recommendation for approval.

Local furniture store employees are concerned the tax rebate offer to a franchise will cannibalize their retail industry.

City Manager David Hales says the incentive will cost the city $15,000 annually, while bringing back $800,000.

"We are seeing retailers who are looking strategically to do some expansion," Hales says. "And they're beginning to look for expansion opportunities."

Manager at Rooms Direct Furniture in Bloomington, Scott Short, does not see it that way.

Short says the franchisee had plans to build in Bloomington either way.

"He did not need to take this city's tax money to come here. One way or the other, he was coming. He is part of a $3.5 billion furniture company. They didn't need our money. He's coming here one way or the other, period.

The offer gives Ashley Furniture a 50 percent rebate on sales tax.

The rebate is capped at one-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollars or ten years, whichever comes first.

If the store does not succeed, the franchisee is obligated to pay the city back.

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