County set to hear new plan to lure Bass Pro Shops to Brandon - WFLA News Channel 8

Commissioners set to hear new plan to lure Bass Pro Shops to Brandon

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Tom Mahoney is among small business owners fighting a proposal to bring mega-chain Bass Pro Shops to Brandon.

"It's the principal of it," Mahoney said.

Their beef? Millions in tax money to improve roads around the development.

They say it's tax relief for a giant store that could put many of them out of business.

"If you expect the county to help one retailer, it needs to help every one of us," he said.

Bass Pro is fighting an uphill battle.  It first asked for $15 million. Then that number dropped to $8.2 million.

Hillsborough County Commissioners were set to vote in February, but earlier this month 8 On Your Side broke the story that Bass Pro had launched a legal battle over the logo of a small business owner in Valrico.

Customers from around the world vowed to protest the store, and the company dropped the legal battle. But there was still the question of the public money.

Several county commissioners said they planned to vote against the proposal.

So Commissioner Ken Hagan went to work. He's been trying to lure Bass Pro to the area for years.

He tells 8 On Your Side he's been working with the project developer on a new plan, that would drop the public money to $6.2 million. 

Mahoney says that doesn't help. "50 cents is too much," he said.

This new plan postpones the commission vote on the money to February 20.

In the meantime, the commission will hear details on February 6.  

Commissioner Hagan said the money isn't going directly to Bass Pro, but to the developer. The developer plans many other businesses, including restaurants at the site. But Bass Pro is the main tenant, and many of the others won't come without it, he said.

If the money isn't approved, Hagan said Bass Pro will likely build its store near the Wiregrass Mall in Pasco County.

"They have other options," he said. "They don't have to come here."

Hagan said the county would make its money back within four years. He said the county would also benefit from jobs from the development.

The county, he says, has much more to lose than Bass Pro.

"In my time on the board, I can't recall an economic development opportunity of this magnitude," Hagan said.  

 

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