At issue | Dec. 18 Herald-Leader article, "State cited feasibility study it hadn't seen on Ark park; project targeted for potential tax incentives:
The front-page article regarding incentives for the Ark Encounter attraction in Northern Kentucky made a series of statements that are disturbing and lead readers to believe the state did not do its due diligence before granting incentives. This is troubling in that such statements cast a negative light on a project that has the potential to create thousands of jobs and add much-needed revenue to the state and local region.
The paper unfairly chastised the governor's staff for not reading the massive feasibility study that was conducted to estimate the Ark's projected attendance. That was unnecessary for two reasons.
First, according to the state's own requirements, before the state can make any decision to grant a partial rebate of sales tax, the Ark Encounter has to conduct another feasibility study.
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Second, the governor's staff knew the first study was conducted by a nationally recognized researcher and could rely on the summary of the study.
The national study should be enough to move forward, but the state still has to insist on a second study. While the article mentioned that a second study would be needed, it was several paragraphs into the article. By then, the reader would have been convinced the governor's staff was not handling the application properly.
Likewise, the paper does not appear to understand the concept of the state's incentive programs. The paper has yet to make clear that there is no financial risk to Kentucky taxpayers. This is not "stimulus funding" in that no money will be taken out of the state budget to fund the Ark's construction or its operation.
According to the Tourism Development Act, Kentucky would rebate a portion of that sales tax to the Ark Encounter LLC. Taxes will certainly be paid by the theme park's visitors who will pay sales tax inside the attraction. Additionally, many different taxes will be paid by the numerous indirect business activities created by the massive project.
The Creation Museum, located in Petersburg, is run by Answers in Genesis (AiG) and has a proven track record in our region. Since its opening, it has added tens of millions of dollars to the Northern Kentucky economy.
A subsidiary of AiG will run the Ark attraction, and the effect on the state and local economies may be profoundly positive, as well as helping address the state's unemployment rate that currently exceeds 10 percent.