Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Still Talking 'Target'

The article that appeared in the Miner last week is still causing some bits of conversation.

There seems to be two camps in the conversation. Those in Kingman that desire to shop at a fine retail store like Target... and those that are using the article to end the discussion because Target chose a different location than in Kingman.

I'm not going to get all that 'linky' in this post. The readers that are most interested in the discussions know where to look to find the various takes (hint, letters to the editor that appear in the Miner and the posts below). I even see a MOCO commenter got in the act and offered a letter in the Miner... even responded to a responder of his letter (how's your trip going Al??).

Speaking of Al (Koffman), he informed us here at MOCO that there was an article that spoke about the effort that was made to bring Target to the Bullhead City area. Now, while I haven't found the article as of yet, I don't think Al pulled what he said out of thin air. Apparently a group approached Target and told them that even though Bullhead City didn't have the needed 100,000 in population, Bullhead City was THE place to open up for business in Mohave County.

Al responded to a post by informing the others that the group used the populations of Needles (California), Laughlin (Nevada), and Arizona municipalities including Mohave Valley and Bullhead City in swaying Target to come to Mohave County.

So that got me thinking... just what is the estimated population of all of those communities??

I used city-data.com figures and here is what I came up with.

I started in Bullhead City. Notice the estimated population numbers for 2006... the number is 19.1% higher in population than the more official numbers taken from the year 2000. City-data.com did not give these estimated figures for ALL of the other communities such as Mohave Valley or Laughlin. So I've decided to add 20% to those figures in the rundown below.

Bullhead City, Arizona = 40,225
Mohave Valley, Arizona = 16,433*
Laughlin, Nevada = 8,491*
Needles, California = 5,330

Total estimated population count = 70,479

*denotes a figure derived by adding 20% to the reported population figure from 2000 according to city-data.com

Again, these numbers are estimated and I'm only using the resources from city-data.com to arrive at the figures above.

Now, let us look at the Kingman area that includes Kingman, New Kingman (Butler), and Golden Valley using the same resource and percentage increases as seen in the Bullhead City numbers. I'm going to use a 20% increase even though city-data.com shows that the population in Kingman increased at a rate of just under 40% from the year 2000 to 2006. I realize this isn't the most scientific way to do this but I'm trying to give Kingman every disadvantage that I can... with one exception.

I was looking for traffic counts on Interstate 40 and came across an ADOT website (Arizona Department of Transportation) and found a reported number of 22,000 vehicles a day traveled through Kingman along this major Interstate... in 1998. Yet an estimated 40% of those vehicles were 18 wheeler's, truck drivers, and the like. So I removed the amount reported for truck traffic. Keep in mind that this is daily traffic.

Taken from ADOT's website...

In 1998, Interstate 40 east of Kingman carried an average daily volume of 22,000 vehicles per day, of which 40% is truck traffic.

Let us just look at the numbers, later you will be free to call 'bullshit' if you must.

Kingman = 27,271
New Kingman/Butler = 17,772*
Golden Valley = 5,418*

Total estimated population count = 50,461

Interstate 40 Traffic = 13,200**

*denotes a figure derived by adding 20% to the reported population figure from 2000 according to city-data.com

**denotes a figure derived by subtracting 40% from ADOT's daily traffic estimation of truck traffic

So there are the numbers. I added the traffic count simply because it is more than possible that most of the traffic on Interstate 40 is NOT local traffic, certainly much less of a percentage than the traffic counts that pass by the property where Target is located in Bullhead City. In a given year according to ADOT's 1998 figures, more than 4.8 million vehicles that aren't tractor-trailers pass through Kingman using the Interstate.

The population counts between the Bullhead City area and the Kingman area are different by about 20,000. Not really all that much, but certainly Bullhead City has the population advantage.

To make up the population difference, Target or other retailers (or other forms of commerce) would only have to attract 0.416% of the traffic that runs through Kingman along I40 a year.

Now I'm under no impression that even a slight minority of drivers using the Interstate will simply be drawn to a place like Target just because it is in Kingman with freeway frontage... but there is a ton of potential with an asset like I40. It is a huge advantage over our neighboring communities in Mohave County. Given the right access, it is more than possible that Interstate traffic can be courted for shopping, eating, entertainment, and even fuel sales in greater numbers than what Kingman is experiencing today at this moment.

Another benefit for the locals would be that this traffic wouldn't have to necessarily utilize overcrowded streets such as Stockton Hill either. Imagine a commercial center with easy access on and off the Interstate a mere stones-throw away... local traffic would hardly be impacted... and it actually could be improved in some places.

Now, if you are a local Kingman resident, raise your hand if you've shopped at the new Target in Bullhead City. Oh I see many hands. Raise your hand if you shop at other places such as the outlet mall in Laughlin, or catch a movie, or even enjoy a nice meal. Wow, many hands are still up, in fact others have raised their hands to join. Now... how many head out to other destinations and find themselves shopping for goods they don't have a choice for in Kingman?? I'm seeing plenty of raised hands still. These raised hands represent lost dollars in terms of sales tax revenues. These hands also represent lost revenue to local business, and I'm talking 'ma and pa' types of shops as well as other locally owned franchise opportunities.

Just a couple of weekends ago, while visiting my sister's family in Las Vegas and watching my nephew play a little league game, I ventured off to Target and spent a little over $30 bucks on some items I cannot get in Kingman (I've looked). After that adventure it was off to catch a bite at one of my favorite sandwich shops known as Capriotti's (I ordered the Bobbie and it was better than good, it is a great sandwich). I only mention this because Capriotti's is a franchise and one of the franchise owners sponsored my nephew's little league team. He told me that the company is looking to add another 500 locations throughout the west. How much does anyone want to bet that I see a Cap's in Bullhead before we see one in Kingman?? This might just be one more reason to spend money in another town, unfortunately.

I love local food joints and always will. The Kingman Deli makes a great lunch and now that Senor Taco is open again I'm finding that my exercise regimen needs to be taken up a notch or two (as I have no more notches left on my belt). Local places like this will only see more business opportunity as the area grows on the back of a growing economy. They will welcome competition because they will have to continue to produce a good product and the exceptional service. As of right now, I doubt either location is noticeably benefiting directly from the traffic that passes through Kingman on the Interstate as neither is located right off the highway. Both examples will attract the local business opportunity and more business will come when there are more locals living in Kingman.

All in all, this isn't only about Target. Yeah, Target has some products in stock that I prefer over Wal-Mart and K-Mart... but I'm not living in misery because Target was courted by a group of people to open up shop in Bullhead City. Target probably made the best decision to locate in Bullhead at this time for themselves. Bullhead is doing just fine with the decision, I thought that I read that the city is expected to receive nearly $840,000 in sales tax revenues in the first year of Target's operation (with the other new retail venues in that commercial center it won't be tough to believe that BHC will benefit over $1 million dollars a year, funds that will hopefully be used to better services in that community).

Once again, the city made a horrible decision in 2005 when Target was actually very interested in locating in Kingman (for whatever reason that may have been). There was a development plan in place with letters of intent signed to develop property along the Interstate... I say again... along the Interstate. A development agreement that would have put a large sum of money into the city treasury, a public infrastructure improvement, and the means to millions of dollars of sales tax revenue.

This horrendous mistake was followed by vocal locals opposing a lesser proposed development agreement to do similar improvements. The window that was wide open to real opportunity only three years ago is getting slammed shut by other factors that aren't controlled by local issues. The national economy is now lagging, we have the credit crunch, high fuel prices, and higher prices on staple goods we all rely on. No fault of the vocal locals on this, but it has to be clear that better opportunities for Kingman are in the rear view mirror. Alarmingly similar as the rear view image as 0.416% of vehicles that pass through Kingman see every day on their way to spend money somewhere else.

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