A new Wal-Mart supercenter has just opened on routes 6 and 85 in Commerce City, CO, and taxpayers are helping to subsidize the world’s richest retailer. City officials were so excited about the prospect of a 155,000 s.f. supercenter that they offered sales tax dollars to help make it happen. They call such deals “incentives”, but it really amounts to an unfair tax advantage offered to large retailers, who then go on to wipe out smaller retailers. You might call it “government-assisted competition” which favors the large players over the small. In Commerce City, public officials offered Wal-Mart a package of incentives that will provide the corporation with nearly $1 million in roadway, traffic and utility improvements. Wal-Mart pays for the improvements, but then they are reimbursed for those expenses from sales taxes generated by their store. In effect, it’s a business write down that helps set up a behemoth capable of displacing smaller competitors who received no such tax breaks to improve their stores.
How appropriate that such corporate welfare should take place in an all American town with a name like “Commerce City”. This is just one more example of how Big Commerce in America buries the little guy. The idea that Wal-Mart, with $137 billion in sales last year, could not afford to engineer its own roadway alterations, is hard to swallow. What’s even harder to comprehend is why local officials would subsidize the biggest retailer at the expense of the smaller stores in the community. So let’s not spend time debating the workings of the Free Market. In Commerce City, USA, the free market is built on taxpayers subsidies.