IKEA

Quite a bit of ink has been used in this newspaper to outline the benefits of luring Bass Pro Shops to Denham Springs, with promises of TIF financing for infrastructure and droves of Southern outdoor disciples revolving in and out of the “Sportsman’s Cathedral” adjacent to Interstate 12.  

What actually occurred was better than any projection could have envisioned. The bonds are on pace to be paid off well in advance of their maturity, which will result in new, positive sales tax cash flow for several taxing entities in the parish including the sheriff, School Board, and the City of Denham Springs.

So, what does one do when the announcement comes down that everything is going well and soon, millions in new revenue will be created by paying off debt? Shoot higher, of course.

According to Mayor Gerard Landry and Joe Moore, representative for the Bass Pro area real estate, both groups are working on attracting IKEA.

The Swedish-founded, multinational group designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories.

They’re a $40.91 billion in revenue type of company. By comparison, Bass Pro hit $4.58 billion in 2016.

Granted, IKEA is a multinational company that has much more room for revenue by offering more day-to-day-type goods. Yes, there are plenty of folks who consider Bass Pro’s wares “day-to-day,” but when compared with the number of people needing furniture, it’s not close.

Even here in Louisiana, as evidenced by the plethora of positive responses on social media regarding the announcement.

IKEA would, as Bass Pro did when it opened, have a bit of an edge in this market and would become a regional draw. The nearest sister store is in Houston and many people who visit the Lone Star State take time to visit the location, which is four hours away. What’s in a four-hour, or less, radius from Denham Springs (outside of Baton Rouge, which is growing into a 750,000+ metro area) – New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Lafayette.

That’s several million people, with a huge percentage of customers who would visit a “destination”-type shopping experience. IKEA opened and has no new stores planned for the United States, but if the real estate team and Denham Springs administration can woo this international behemoth to go along with another destination retail outlet, that equals huge dollars for the parish – much of which comes from people who do not live here.

Those are the folks who can come here, spend some money, which is then deposited in local coffers for projects that include, but aren’t limited to, infrastructure and drainage.

But IKEA comes with an interesting issue unto itself. While Bass Pro is more of a specialized store that offers outdoor gear and goods, IKEA not only offers every-day enhancements for the home, but the aforementioned furniture selection as well. While that’s OK in a market as large as Houston (and other places they do business), it will put pressure on local furniture stores.

Not everyone will shop at IKEA, and they will be a destination-type store. If made true, the local market will have to prepare.

The other piece of bread on this “positive-negative-positive” sandwich is the willingness to pursue new, large-scale development in a post-flood world. Almost every project that was slated before the flood came through, but now a window is open for local development to look further down the road – in a parish that’s growing by nearly 100 households per month.

The big question is – will the new commercial growth provide enough revenue for infrastructure and drainage to keep up? Drainage requirements in new subdivisions need to be updated, to be sure, but time will tell as to whether revenues will meet growth.

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