Hardware chain puts area expansion on hold, citing Obama - KCTV5

Hardware chain puts area expansion on hold, citing Obama

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

Menards has postponed plans to open a store in Independence and the reason why has sparked controversy.

The home improvement chain allegedly cited concerns about policies from President Barack Obama and his administration.

"I'm very sorry, but we are a family-owned business and with the Obama administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled," Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott said in an email last week to the Independence Examiner. "Thank you for your patience and understanding."

But when contacted by KCTV5 on Tuesday, Abbott declined to reiterate his statement. He said his initial statement left room for interpretation and he needed corporate approval before elaborating.

The nearest Menards are in St. Joseph, Topeka and Sedalia. The Independence store would have been at Little Blue Parkway and Interstate 70. The store would have opened in 2014 and been the first in a series in the Kansas City area.

A store near St. Louis is also being delayed.

Area residents who looked forward to shopping at the store or helping build it were lamenting the decision. The store would have created an estimated 250 full-time and part-time jobs.

Harold Rothenberger had put in a bid for his hauling company to work on the project. He said the construction work would have provided employment for many people who needed the jobs.

Some companies say they are hesitant to expand with so much uncertainty in Washington over the "fiscal cliff," and whether tax breaks will end and taxes will go up.

"Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry than to go ahead and put jobs forth then have your business fold," Sharon Rothenberger said.

Others said they support Obama's efforts, saying economic recovery for the middle class is most important.

The Independence City Council delayed a final vote on approving Menards' construction plans until hearing back from the company. The city's zoning commission in October had approved plans to build a Menards on a more than 50-acre tract just east of the Independence Events Center.

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