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The 'elephant in the room' in Commerce

It's good news that the Kilted Monkey – Commerce’s oddly named but charming pub – is reopening, after a few weeks' absence.  Commerce needs more quirky, funky hangouts for townies and students alike that give the place the character of a true college town.  (Here’s hoping that the late, lamented College Corner Café might yet make a comeback of its own.)

This leads us to one of those “elephant-in-the-room” topics – what ails Commerce.  Ironically (or perhaps not), there has recently been some Facebook discussion on this very subject.  One sage observer puts his finger on the recent tendency of A&M-Commerce faculty to say “anywhere but Commerce” when choosing a place to live:

I've said it all along: get the people that work here to live here. We have a huge employer here now, but few of the employees live here, for DAMN GOOD REASON. Even if another employer for some unknown reason would want to locate here, how many of their employees would? I can't imagine many. This town is an ongoing disaster. Maybe it's time we do something different.

Along those lines, former Mayor Quay Throgmorton has started a Facebook campaign in favor of 4B sales-tax status for the city of Commerce.  I wouldn’t know a 4B sales-tax system if it bit me in the deductions, but the Texas Economic Development Council says the 4B sales tax is “broader” than the more restrictive 4A, and can be used for “projects that improve a community’s quality of life, including parks, professional and amateur sport and athletic facilities, tourism and entertainment facilities, affordable housing, and other improvements or expenditures that promote new or expanded business activity that create or retain primary jobs.”  The TEDC said as of the beginning of 2008, 337 cities imposed the 4B tax, 116 imposed the 4A tax, and 103 imposed both.  The idea is to make the city a more attractive place to live in, and then go about convincing people to live and work here.

4B apparently was used to good effect in the Houston-area town of Sugar Land.

Who knows if 4B is the answer to “what ails Commerce”?  The good thing is that a few people are asking, “Hey, what about this elephant?”

John Mark Dempsey is the host of the public interest program The Blacklands Café from KETR News. Dempsey is also the play-by-play announcer for Commerce Tigers Football on 88.9 FM and on ketr.org.
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