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2001-03-06
Davenport, IA. Wal-Mart Can't Compete

It seems that Wal-Mart can dish it out -- but not take it. A Wal-Mart discount store manager in Davenport, Iowa told city officials this week that when a SuperTarget opens across the street from his store, his Wal-Mart won't be competitive. "I can't compete with that," Tony Ciabattoni told the Quad City Times. "All we're asking for is a level playing field." To get on the level, Wal-Mart wants the Davenport City Council to rezone agricultural land to pave the way for a 225,000 s.f. Wal-Mart Supercenter. That means the existing Wal-Mart store, "only" 110,580 s.f. will be shut down. Indeed, so confident is Wal-Mart that the rezoning will happen, it has also listed the Davenport Wal-Mart store on its list of "available" buildings, along with 4 other empty Wal-Marts in Iowa. To sweeten the deal, the developer has offered to pay nearly $4 million in road improvements -- adding more turning lanes and widening roads to accomodate Wal-Mart's needs. Wal-Mart is promising 500 new jobs, but one City Councilor wants an economic impact study that looks at how many jobs elsewhere will be destroyed if Wal-Mart is allowed to morph into a grocery store. Wal-Mart has promised to help the city market the store and find a new user, but the company already has 400 "dead" stores its Realty company is trying to move, some of which have been on the market for years. One Davenport Alderman says the unions are against the new store, and says his colleagues on the City Council "all ran for office with help from the unions." The nine member Council is under no mandate to rezone the land just because a developer wants it done. Wal-Mart dispatched some of its employees to the public hearing. 'Wal-Mart is not a big, bad monster company," said one part-time worker at the store. "Wal-Mart is me, and I don't think I'm so big and bad."

What you can do: Apparently a lot of Davenport residents think Wal-Mart's supercenter is a big and bad idea, since the company already has a huge store in the city. Even Wal-Mart knew that they would run into citizen opposition before they announced their desire to build a store in one of the most congested parts of the city, on land zoned agricultural. The President of the development company told the newspaper he knew his plans would be opposed. "It was not totally unexpected," he said.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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