Exec. of Econ. Development Said Cabelas Would Have Been Impactful

| November 12, 2015 | 0 Comments | Bristow Biz
Photo Courtesy of the Peterson Companies

Overhead view of land planned for Cabelas. Photo Courtesy of the Peterson Companies

Executive Officer of Economic Development for Prince William County Jeff Kaczmarek said Cabelas would have been a boon for the local economy.

Kaczmarek said they didn’t conduct an economic impact analysis. However given the potential investment, the number of jobs (estimated at 190) and noting that it was planned to be a 80,000 square foot store, the impact would have been substantial.

Last November, Cabelas Outfitters, the mega sporting good and outdoor retailer, announced it would be coming to Virginia Gateway Shopping Center in Gainesville, Virginia, replacing a large industrial site off Route 29. Many, including Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart heralded this as good news for the local economy.

Last week, as first reported by Bristow Beat, Cabelas announced it was pulling out of seven new locations including the one in Gainesville. The company’s decision had less to do with Gainesville and more with its decision to scale back their operations.

Kaczmarek said Cabelas was significant for Prince William because it would have brought in customers from all over the Washington Metro Area, including Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia.

“As a destination retail facility, it would draw from a big area geographically. A lot of people drive two to three hours to go to a Cabelas store,” he said. “We know that would have had a very, very positive amplifying and leveraging effect for the outdoors and recreation field,” he said.

Not just any large store would yield the same kind of economic effect said Kaczmarek; however, he said people are very loyal to stores like Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops.

Once people made the trek to Cabelas, Kaczmarek said they would likely stay awhile, shopping and dining at local businesses.

The economic impact extends beyond consumerism, just the promise of Cabelas had helped attract investors looking to buy county bonds, and impressing rating agencies such as Moody’ Standards and Poors, he said.

For those reasons, the Office of Economic Development worked with developer the Peterson Companies to provide demographic data for Cabelas and to “fast-track” the sporting goods retailer through the permitting process.

“That is very, very important to them,” said Kaczmarek since they wanted to open in time for the 2017 holiday season.

While the county’s biggest push is to attract science and technologies companies, every five years or so, Kaczmarek said his office will work to attract a big retailer, like Ikea, that would yield a net effect on local economy.

While retail jobs are not particularly high paying, Kaczmarek said they do provide jobs for residents, especially since most people do not hold advanced science degrees.

Kaczmarek notes the same infrastructure and amenities that attracted Cabelas still exists, making it a prime location for another destination retailer. The site on the end of Wellington Road is right off Route 29, very close to the I-66 exit and visible from the new Gainesville overpass.

“It’s a fairly large site; it requires something of large scale,” said Kaczmarek

This week, Kaczmarek is meeting Peterson Companies this week to discuss where they will go from here.

If Cabelas were to change their mind, Kaczmarek said he would be very pleased but at this point, company representatives told him their decision is final.

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