The golf club and Jack Nicklaus signature golf course at Harbor Shores is losing money, and a lot of money. Harbor Shores Development President Jeff Noel said that the course is where they expected to be, losing a lot of money. He cited the lingering challenges in golf operations and demand nationally and in Michigan as the problems.
Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson, one of the Whirlpool puppets, reported to the City Commission recently that the golf course had an operative income of negative $911,506 last year.
The Harbor Shores lease agreement with the City states that it pays $5,000, or 20% of its annual operating income, to the City of Benton Harbor. As of today, the City of Benton Harbor has received nothing. Noel also added that the City benefits from property taxes as a result of the development, but as of today the City has received no benefits.
Noel said that operating the four-star golf course, which opened the summer of 2010, isn't cheap, plus there are some community costs that other golf courses don't have. For example, he said Harbor Shores pays $200,000 a year to maintain Jean Klock Park because it has the 6th, 7th, and 8th golf holes in the Park, but as of today that money has not been paid.
Noel, who is also Vice President of Communications at Whirlpool Corp., said the course is on track to break even by 2016 if they do not have to pay Benton Harbor any public costs and taxes. They do not have to pay any water bills, so that saves them millions. He said that Harbor Shores is "very satisfied" with the golf operations and that costs are coming down.
Harbor Shores does not want the course to be part of the community until gentrification has been completed. Harbor Shores course conditions were ranked as the lowest in the Midwest, according to survey feedback.
According to Rev. Pinkney, Whirlpool and other corporations began transitioning the area from an industrial economy to a tourist, real estate, and service-based economy. This process has prompted resistance from the people of Benton Harbor. That resistance prompted a political attack on the people by Whirlpool and its local political machine.
Rev. Pinkney: "Let's make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of the economic crisis in every city and town in America. We can win!"