For nearly 15 years, Idaho-based clothing retailer Coldwater Creek has operated a giant distribution center near Parkersburg. Unfortunately, the company has filed for bankruptcy and the distribution center is going to close.
In addition to the lost jobs and lost opportunities, West Virginia and the Wood County Development Authority now have to deal with a 1 million-square foot warehouse and a host of financial issues. State leaders seem certain they will find a new tenant for the property, yet one has to wonder where we will be on the creditor list when Coldwater Creek begins the bankruptcy process.
On a deeper level, why was the state so involved with this company in the first place? Retail is a fickle industry driven and affected by market factors that are incredibly difficult to navigate. Why did we invest so much, upwards of $13 million, over half of which is still owed to us? Was there any oversight on the state’s end?
If taxpayer money is used as investment capital, then these questions must be asked and answered. As we have said many times before, these kinds of peculiar deals are rarely a good idea. The reason behind them is pretty simple — state partnership usually eases West Virginia’s restrictive tax structure on the companies involved. We see this and we have to ask, why not reform the entire system?