I have written for years that Wal-Mart and othe big box chain stores are ruining hometown America, but this time it’s literally true. Citizens in Hometown, Pennsylvania have learned that Wal-Mart wants to come to their town, and they need public money to do it. Here is a report from activists in Hometown: “The developer is out of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, George Zamias Developers. Seventy acres have been declared economically blighted by Schuylkill County’s Planning and Zoning Commission with a vote of 5-2. This area is an empty big box, formerly a Laneco and then a TJ Barts shopping center occupied the area. It has been vacant for about 10 years, most likely due to the Wal-Mart that was built in West Hazleton, PA, located approximately 15 miles north on Interstate 81. The plan is to demolish the existing empty buildings and build a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority (SCIDA) is working on a Tax Increment Finance plan for development, although it must first be approved by Rush Township, the Tamaqua School District, and the County Commissioners. The Pennsylvania Departant of Transportation (PennDOT) estimates that it will cost approximately $2 million for upgrades to the roadways in the area. A Wal-Mart in Hometown will undoubtedly run the local businesses into the ground. Some of these business include a locally owned grocery store, a locally owned pharmacy, and a locally owned fresh produce stand, along with a farmers / flea market which is held every Wednesday in Hometown. All of these local business are within 2 miles of the proposed Wal-Mart site. I am against this because I do not want my dollars going to Bentonville, Arkansas. When I spend my dollars at a locally owned business that money is deposited in a local bank, and spent again and again within the community. This generates local taxes, which are spent on local needs. I do not agree with the health care, or lack thereof, that Wal-Mart offers to its employees. I do not agree with Wal-Mart not allowing its employees to unionize. I do not like the idea that free public spaces are being bombarded by big box corporations. I do not like the idea of corporately owned property, I do not like the idea of these formerly public spaces now being private corporate property with corporate laws that almost supercede those of the United States. I do not like the clustering and cannibalizing expansion tactics practiced by such big boxes as Wal-Mart. I do not agree with the way Wal-Mart forces wholesalers into selling their products at a lower price, so low that the competition can barely afford to keep up. I do not like the fact that our choices are being limited due to the mass expansion of such big boxes. These are just a few reasons why I am against the Wal-Mart in Hometown. There is a public meeting at the Rush Township Municipal Building in Hometown on Tuesday May 10, according to the newspaper, concerning the Wal-Mart project in Hometown. I plan on attending this meeting and speaking my mind, hopefully I can find some fellow supporters.
Why is a public entity created to stimulate “industrial development” spending its time and money on a large retailer, that will simply shift market share away from local merchants? In this case, local officials will end up granting millions of dollars in tax breaks to improve the roads and infrastructure right to Wal-Mart’s door. Wal-Mart had net profits of $10 billion last year — yet taxpayers in Hometown will have to pay to ready this site for Wal-Mart. Retailers should not be eligible for industrial development funds, or TIFs. They are not a form of economic development, and do not create “new” jobs. This corporate welfare is what is happening to “hometown” America. To help in the Hometown, PA. battle, contact Aaron Schock [email protected]