ROSSVILLE – The new Casey's General Store marks its first day of business in Rossville today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Mayor Terry Prillaman, who will be involved in the ceremony, said he's pleased to see the new business at 112 S. Chicago St. in downtown Rossville.
"They are quite a revenue generator, and that's what the community needs," he said. "There's no revenue generated from vacant lots."
The new store, which offers self-service gasoline, groceries, pizza, homemade doughnuts, cookies and other merchandise, sits on the lots left vacant by a fire that wiped out an entire block of buildings and businesses in downtown Rossville in the winter of 2004.
Wilma Knight owns a gift-basket shop across the street from the new Casey's. She also looks forward to the additional tax revenue.
"Rossville needs it," she said. "It makes the town look like a town. After the fire, it didn't look real nice across the street. I think it will be good for Rossville."
Most of the business owners did not have the financial ability to rebuild, so the lots turned grass until Casey's came along.
Prillaman said Casey's General Stores, Inc., which has 1,440 corporate stores mostly in the Midwest, has made about a $275,000 investment in the community by building the new store. That's about $20,000 in real estate taxes each year, he said, which will directly benefit the area. And, he estimates that it could generate about $5,000 in quarterly sales tax revenue for the village.
"This is going to be a real cash cow, I hope," said Prillaman, who has studied sales tax reports of neighboring communities and has watched their sales tax revenues escalate after Casey's comes to town.
The store also will generate some jobs. According to Casey's officials, they will employ two to four full-time workers and six to eight part-time employees.
Prillaman hopes it also will be good for other shops and businesses in Rossville.
Instead of people driving through town and glancing over at the vacant lots, the hope is that they'll stop at Casey's and notice the other shops across the street.
"I think that will happen," said Prillaman, who stood on the sidewalk one day and watched traffic through town. So many were looking at the vacant lots rather than the other shops and businesses, he said.
In response, the village erected a sign on the vacant lots drawing attention to the 22 other businesses and shops in town.
It was to let people know "we're still here," Prillaman said.
Now there's a new sign – a more aesthetically pleasing sign than customers see at other Casey's stores. The ground-level, brick structure was requested by the village of Rossville.
"We requested that so it will blend in a little more," said Prillaman, who explained that they also requested the brick-style building as opposed to one with siding. "I think it looks better in a downtown setting."
Prillaman said overall, he's happy with the whole venture.
"It wasn't my first choice to go downtown, but after a while you say,"We have to have revenue." You can't provide the services without the revenue."
The store also sits in the village's tax incrementing financing district, which is a designated area with the village. Within the district, any increase in property tax revenue goes to the city and into a special TIF fund. Some is kicked back to the school district. The TIF money can be used for special village improvement projects.
Prillaman said it will take a couple years for that to generate, but when it does, they've already discussed some improvements such as new sidewalks.
There are still two vacant lots to the south of Casey's. Prillaman said there has been some development interest in those, and the village would talk to anyone interested in those lots.
"We welcome them with open arms," he said. "We hope that they do a very successful business. When they prosper, we'll prosper, and so will all of the community."