By William Lidster
September 13, 2005
I am sometimes amazed that Alaskans don't fully appreciate what these stores do provide. In 2005 alone, these stores will pay well around $1 million in taxes to Ketchikan that it collected through its sales. They will pay $450 each to the Ketchikan Fire Department for an annual fee. They will make improvements to their stores and each improvement will cost nearly $1000 to a local architect to draw up the building improvement plans and they will pay about $300 each for their improvement for a permit.
The businesses will hire local people or they will bring people in from out-of-state. Either way, the local community gets additional jobs or income (apartment and hotal rentals, groceries, gas, movies, dining, drinking, entertainment) and will receive additional taxes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the businesses consuming these goods and services.
I admit the abundance of jewelry stores does take away from the "genuine Alaskan" experience that Ketchikan would like to provide to its visitors. However, until local businesses can purchase the multi-million dollar property or afford lease spaces that exceed $5.00 per square foot for a 12-month period (open or closed), then the community is left with just one option; the spaces will be let by businesses with the means to pay these high prices. The businesses will contribute to the local community in sales taxes (both passed through and paid directly) in the millions of dollars, and they will leave after 6 months (they are generally here April through September of each year).
Until the local businesses can provide an alternative to the community, I think one must appreciate the presence of the out-of-state businesses - even though they detract from the genuine Alaskan experience.
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