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Wal-Mart leaves Glenwood feeling big-boxed around

Anyone mystified about why cities so often go ga-ga over the prospect of attracting a big box retailer need look no further than recent sales tax figures for some clarity.

Glenwood Springs lost $100,000 in sales tax revenues in November, compared to a year earlier. Rifle gained $120,000 in the same month.

Not coincidentally, a Super Wal-Mart opened in Rifle Oct. 29.



It would be a reach to assume that every dollar Glenwood lost was one that Rifle gained. But there was every reason to expect that the new store would boost Rifle’s coffers at least somewhat at Glenwood’s expense.

Still, the larger picture provides a reminder that few people living elsewhere in Garfield County are going to sympathize with Glenwood’s plight, and that it’s hardly time for Glenwood residents to panic. The city still enjoys a commanding lead as the county’s commercial center. Its November sales tax collections were $714,000, compared to just $171,000 in Rifle. Glenwood has benefited from spending by Rifle residents for decades.



In addition, Glenwood Meadows is slated to come online, bringing a Target and Lowe’s to town in 2005.

Until then, the city will have to continue tightening its belt in order to absorb a sales tax slump that in fact began long before the arrival of Super Wal-Mart, having its beginnings in the terrorist attacks of 2001, Coal Seam Fire of 2002 and national economic slowdown.

This will also be a good time for the city to be looking all the more aggressively at other means of expanding revenues beyond engaging in a never-ending race for more big boxes that enrich communities financially but can detract from quality of life.

Such efforts already are paying off in a way that deserves two thumbs up. The makers of an action thriller that will star Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have chosen to film part of it at Glenwood Canyon’s Hanging Lake Tunnels. The decision is a credit to the work of the fledgling Glenwood Film Commission, created in 2002 by the city’s Chamber Resort Association.

The film project promises increased lodging, dining and other business when film crews are in town, and publicity that will be invaluable to the local tourist economy.

It also provides a bit of a morale booster to a town that may be feeling a little down right now, but is far from out.


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