Sunday, Jun 26, 2016
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Bass Pro chief to meet Wood Co. officials next week

BOWLING GREEN - Bass Pro President James Hagale is scheduled to be in Wood County on Tuesday to meet with county commissioners when they formally approve a sales tax rebate for the company's proposed $50 million store in Rossford.

Commissioner Tim Brown said the meeting, set for 9:30 a.m., was firmed up yesterday and is open to the public.

While Bass Pro appears intent on coming to the Crossroads of America area off I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike, company spokesman Larry Whiteley said the company still has not publicly committed itself to the Rossford site.

Whether Mr. Hagale will be making a formal announcement about the company's intentions was unclear.

"You probably just need to be out there and see what happens with that because I don't know that we have a definite answer for you right now," Mr. Whiteley said. "We probably won't release anything until that time."

Mr. Brown said commissioners plan to invite Rossford officials as well as state Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), who co-sponsored the legislation that made the 10-year, 75 percent sales tax rebate possible for Bass Pro, and Gov. Bob Taft, who signed the legislation.

The new law, which requires a qualifying megaretailer like Bass Pro to commit to a project by Dec. 1, allows commissioners to reimburse Bass Pro for up to 75 percent of the county's 1 percent sales tax on sales made at the store for 10 years or until the company recoups its construction and development costs.

To qualify, Bass Pro had to show it would invest at least $50 million, employ at least 150 full-time-equivalent workers, attract at least half of its customers from more than 100 miles away, and dedicate at least 10 percent of the facility to educational activities and exhibits.

Mr. Brown said the three commissioners agreed last month to offer the maxi-mum sales tax rebate allowed under the law, so he expects the agreement to be formally approved next week.

"I think this is something all three commissioners are excited about," he said. "I think it's good for the economy of Wood County, and I intend to be voting for it."

As an added inducement for Bass Pro, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has committed $1 million to the project from hunting and fishing license fees and from federal excise taxes paid on hunting and fishing equipment. The money would be used to help develop an outdoor education center at the Rossford store.

Bass Pro has proposed building a 150,000 to 180,000-square-foot restaurant and retail store that would include a gift and nature center, a large boat showroom, an 18,000-gallon aquarium, native wildlife and artifact displays, and exhibition and recreation space.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.

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