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2005-02-08
Boonville, MO. Public Subsidy for Wal-Mart Supercenter Denied

Wal-Mart asked for public welfare recently in Boonville, Missouri, but came away empty-handed. The retailer had asked the City Council to pay for infrastructure improvements to make possible a new supercenter. Wal-Mart wanted city taxpayers to give the company $467,000 in road and sewer upgrades. Wal-Mart's developers threatened to discontinue their plans to build "unless" the incentive issue "is addressed satisfactorily." According to the Tribune newspaper, the "ultimatum ignited tempers among Boonville retailers already worried that a Supercenter would hurt their businesses." The city council then voted unanimously to reject the incentive package. "Wal-Mart is a multibillion-dollar corporation that has more money than the town of Boonville," said one local merchant. "There's no reason why they should come into our town and ask us to pay for anything." Wal-Mart and Boonville have been talking since early summer about the possibility of building a 100,000-square-foot store on a vacant site. There is a smaller Wal-Mart only a quarter-mile north of the proposed building site, and the existing store would close if a larger one was built, leaving Boonville with another problem on its hands. Wal-Mart asked for the corporate welfare "in view of the high cost of the site" to develop. Downtown merchants lobbied the city council to reject the welfare request. "We accepted the fact that" a Wal-Mart Supercenter "will come to Boonville if they want to. But it never dawned on us that they were going to get paid for doing so," one merchant told the Tribune. "I think there's very few of us who wouldn't agree that if we prevented this from coming in, it wouldn't make us sad."

What you can do: The wealthiest retailer in the world does not need to plead for public welfare to build its stores. If Wal-Mart can't make a go of it financially, let them go elsewhere. Such subsidies for large retailers discriminates against the smaller merchants who are offered no such tax breaks. For earlier stories on Wal-Mart's habitual use of public subsidies, search the Newsflash database by "corporate welfare."










 
 
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