Wal-Mart's supporters say that the retail giant brings much-needed jobs to depressed areas.
But an urban planner from Asheville, North Carolina found that Wal-Mart is much less beneficial than downtown businesses, according to the book "The Happy City."
Salon recently published an excerpt from the book.
Wal-Mart's main detriment is its location, the planner, Joseph Minicozzi explains. The supercenters are often located on the outskirts of town, in comparison with downtown businesses that often pay more in taxes based on location.
Minicozzi compares Wal-Mart's returns to those of a downtown JCPenney location:
" Adding up the property and sales tax paid on each piece of land, Minicozzi found that the Wal-Mart contributed only $50,800 to the city in retail and property taxes for each acre it used, but the JCPenney building contributed a whopping $330,000 per acre in property tax alone. In other words, the city got more than seven times the return for every acre on downtown investments than it did when it broke new ground out on the city limits."
Wal-Mart also provided fewer jobs than the JCPenney, according to "Happy City":
"T he small businesses that occupied the old Penney’s building employed fourteen people, which doesn’t seem like many until you realize that this is actually seventy-four jobs per acre, compared with the fewer than six jobs per acre created on a sprawling Walmart site."
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