More public subsidies for Salem’s

More public subsidies for Salem’s

And the public subsidies for Salem’s Market and Grill just keep on keepin’ on.

There already was a list of limited lease, tax and expense abatements and a lengthy list of equipment conveyed for $1 for the government-picked and -subsidized grocer to succeed the last (and failed) government-picked and -subsidized grocer in the Hill District.

Now, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) has approved a nearly $1.4 million loan – part of a larger bank-based loan and company equity deal – to get Salem’s up and running, and all to tackle a much touted but quite illusory “food desert” (as this scrivener detailed in a February column).

The URA, of course, is a public authority doling out public money. Oh, and that bank-based loan? It’s being guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, another public agency doling out public money.

“We’re looking for a complete transformation of the location,” Salem’s Market CEO Abdullah Salem told the Post-Gazette. “We want to bring a food mecca to a food desert.”

Additionally, Salem told the P-G he wants to build one of the best and most modern groceries in the state, one that will be an asset to the community and provide goods “at the most competitive rate possible.”

But, again, and for the umpteenth time, that should be the function of private investment. Taxpayers have no business being turned into venture capitalists to assist Salem.

As one commentator on the P-G story succinctly put it:

“Subsidizing a grocery store that will never work is pure insanity. If business owners thought that location was profitable, they’d put a store up and wouldn’t need the URA.

“Junk economics and junk politics,” the poster noted.

Give the poster a gold star.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).