When a big business shows an interest in a humble little city, it’s common practice for the local government to lavish said business with luxurious welfare packages, in hopes that its love will be reciprocated.
So when Menards considered plans to build a store in New Philadelphia, Ohio, the city offered the company 50 percent off property taxes for 10 years if it would purchase the site of an old Kmart and turn it into a beautiful bazaar of hardware and lumber.
In 2014, Menards bought the property, razed the Kmart, and prepared to build. An era of prosperity was finally upon New Philadelphia. Mayor Dave Johnson predicted that Menards would begin construction in 2015, and eventually add 200 jobs and a $1 million payroll.
Then, Menards changed its mind. Economic progress would have to wait... for the presidential election?
Jessie O’Mara, a Menards spokeswoman, told the Times-Reporter that the top boss didn’t want to build more stores until he could be sure that the next commander in chief would be someone more favorable to him than Barack Obama.
"We are a family-owned business, and with the Obama Administration scaring the dickens out of all family businesses in the U.S.A. at present, and with no certainty if the next administration will be any better, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled," O’Mara wrote in an email.
Based on recent National Labor Relations Board findings, John Menard is probably holding out for someone anti-labor, anti-union, anti-living wage. Someone like his hometown governor, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, for instance. Walker may have been the first GOP candidate to bite the dust this year, but there's still hope that whoever gets to be the Republican nominee could pick Walker as a running mate.
Meanwhile, there’s been no movement on this empty plot of land for two years, which means the public is subsidizing Menards for property it’s not developing. The city is certainly not getting any new jobs, no new boost to its local retail, nothing to attract more business investments.