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Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

American Eagle controversy has lasting effect, chamber official says

April 6, 2001

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Last summer's controversy over a proposed tax abatement to American Eagle Outfitters continues to shadow the city's economic development efforts, scaring some companies away, an official said Thursday.

"The news is out there," Debi Moore, vice president of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, told the Law-rence-Douglas County Economic Development Board. "There have been a couple of companies that have said they don't want to be fired at.

"The word is out that we will be publicly looking at these abatements, which is not a bad idea, but some of the companies don't want to undergo that scrutiny."

Despite vocal opposition, Lawrence city commissioners approved the abatement. American Eagle later chose to build its distribution center in Ottawa instead.

After the meeting, Moore said a half-dozen site location consultants, who each represent a variety of industries, had told her about the controversy's lingering effects.

Moore said she couldn't name the specific companies that shied away from Lawrence, but their industries "run the gamut" from manufacturing to administrative office centers.

"You don't know how many are out there that haven't said anything," she said. "We really don't have any way to measure it."

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