May 2018 Column Winner

Where have all the businesses gone
Aaron McDonald, Countywide & Sun

Buck’s Western Wear, O’Dell’s Western Wear, C.R. Anthony’s, Condon Hardware, Western Auto, H.O. Lloyd Lumber, J&M Discount Carpet, Five Star Milling.
Looking through one of the newspaper’s bound collections the other day revealed something interesting. Said interesting thing came off the sports page from 1983. Specifically, the number of sports page sponsors that adorned the Tecumseh football schedule.
That season, there were no less than 75. You read that right, 75.
Surely most of these were businesses outside of Tecumseh that simply wanted to support the printing of the sports schedules, much like they do today. There couldn’t have been that many businesses in small-town Tecumseh, could there?
The answer to that is a very sad “yes.”
In 1983, there were 64 businesses with Tecumseh addresses and/or phone numbers who were sponsors of the Tecumseh Sports Page in The Tecumseh Countywide News.
This year, there were eight Tecumseh businesses that sponsored the Tecumseh Sports Page in the Countywide & Sun.
There are indeed far more than eight businesses in Tecumseh today, and the city is doing well in many aspects related to business. We have two dentist offices, several eating establishments, four gas stations, a grocery store, two department stores, and several other businesses of varying types and sizes. But even this nicely rounded out list is a far cry from what was the list.
The Office of Juvenile Affairs announced a windfall for Tecumseh last year when they decided to consolidate their three juvenile facilities across the state into one, expanding the remaining campus considerably. That expansion will take place over a three-year period at a total estimated cost of $47.65 million, and will result in many new jobs right here in Tecumseh. That will be good for business.
At the May 14 Tecumseh Public Schools school board meeting, discussion was had as to whether Tecumseh Public Schools would be able to accommodate the influx of new students that all these new jobs will bring.
A good question for sure. However, what would make someone believe that adequate housing currently exists in Tecumseh to cause any of these future employees of Tecumseh’s soon-to-be largest employer to live in our fair city? There simply isn’t.
When was the last time a real subdivision was put up in Tecumseh’s city limits? Just last year, our city council nixed a proposed housing addition in the area of Malone Road and Hwy. 9 primarily because of their belief that the EPA didn’t have it right when it comes to aerobic septic systems. A proposed subdivision in the area of Harrison and Benson Park seems to have fallen apart, and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has cleared land along Rangeline south of Highland for an addition available to their members, but has yet to begin construction.
Longtime Tecumseh residents nearly always oppose expanding housing in Tecumseh, saying they want to protect our small-town lifestyle. Many of those same residents will also tell you that we need more retail in Tecumseh, and history tells us that Tecumseh has, and can, support much more business than we currently have.
So what gives? Why is there not more retail here?
That answer is probably very simple.
Rooftops. Today’s retailers simply will not expand into communities that do not have the number of rooftops that their analytics tells them they need in order for the cost vs. benefit to be favorable for them.
Tecumseh is in no danger of becoming the large city that is our neighbor to the north. However, we are in a great position to take advantage of our proximity to that larger city by making Tecumseh the preferred place for builders to do business. That will mean more tax dollars, more utility dollars, and, by extension, a better quality of life for all residents of Tecumseh.

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