Stupid or don’t care?
Just out of curiosity, are the yahoos running Georgetown County really that stupid or do they just not care?
First it was Wings, then Eagles, then car dealer after car dealer, then Dollar General, (not one, but two within a couple of miles of the other), then a Fresh Market (we already had three major grocery stores in less than a five-mile stretch), then a mini-warehouse, now, (and this is the biggie), Walmart with yet another grocery store.
Pretty soon Pawleys Island will look just like our neighbors to the north or even worse, to the south. Is that what we all envisioned for Pawleys when we moved here? I think not.
Ms. Caswell has addressed the issue with a letter and would have you believe we’re all perched on high horses and uncaring about those in need of such a store.
Well, let’s set the record straight. Walmart’s employee salaries average $8.75/hr. They hire mostly part time so as not to have to pay benefits. Small businesses will lose a large part of their customer base, whether Ms. Caswell thinks so or not. Lastly, Ms. Caswell seems to be concerned about those people that don’t have transportation to one of the other Walmarts. Does she think those that will be shopping at the Pawleys Walmart will walk or bike there? Seriously?
I’m not sure what the solution to our Hwy. 17 problem is, but here’s some food for thought:
Jim Walton, (heir to the Walmart empire), is worth about $24 billion. How about he spends $1 billion on the “Clean up Hwy 17” project in Pawleys by bulldozing the eyesores from Brookgreen Gardens to the Waccamaw River. (He can both deduct that money on his tax return and at the same time create some real jobs). Then, and only then, can he have permission to construct a Walmart store that meets all of Pawleys building restrictions.
Otherwise, stay … out!
Walmart — Some answers
Patrick Francke has asked a lot of questions in his recent letter to the Georgetown/Waccamaw Times. It may be impossible to answer them all; some of them may be impossible to answer, but I’ll try to answer some.
“A Fortune 500 company [since it must not be named, I’ll call it “Voldemort”] is reportedly interested in investing a large amount of money in our community that will bring a few hundred well-paying jobs with health and retirement benefits. Do you have another Fortune 500 company up your sleeve that you are courting? Do you have another solution for the 12 to 15% unemployment in the area? The local merchants serve a purpose and have a niche but how many are providing health and retirement benefits? Have you considered that the extra jobs may actually help the local businesses?”
Let me dispose of the easy answers first.
No, I do not have another Fortune 500 company up my sleeve.
No, I do not have another solution for the 12 to 15% unemployment in the area, but the June unemployment rate for all of Georgetown County was 9.9%, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
I, like Mr. Francke, have no idea how many local merchants are providing health and retirement benefits, but I do know what sort of health and retirement benefits Walmart (drat, I had to name the unnamable!) does offer their associates.
Full-time employees must wait six months before they become eligible to join the company health insurance plan. Part-timers must wait one year to qualify, resulting in almost 40% of Walmart’s workforce ineligible. Of those who are eligible, about one-third do not enroll, in many cases because the out-of-pocket costs are unaffordable on the low wages they are paid by Walmart. This often results in Walmart employees having to apply for Medicaid and enroll in the Food Stamp program to make ends meet.
Massachusetts found that nearly 9,500 Walmart, Home Depot and Target employees and dependents were receiving publicly-funded health care at an annual cost to taxpayers of over $12 million. Of course, we don’t have Romneycare here, and our Governor opposes us having the Affordable Care Act exchanges, so I cannot estimate how much it will cost to provide health care for the proposed 200 new Walmart employees, nor could Mr. Francke, I wager.
Yes, I have considered whether the “extra jobs may actually help the local businesses.” Are those the businesses that manage to survive after Walmart moves in to a community? The Waccamaw Neck community need not be the next big-box experiment when we already have the results of hundreds of Walmart experiments in other communities. University of California economist David Neumark studied 3,094 counties across this country, examining the impact of new Walmart stores from 1977 to 2002. He found that opening a Walmart store resulted in a net loss of 150 retail jobs on average, suggesting that each new Walmart job displaces about 1.4 workers at other stores, whether they survive or fail because they cannot compete with the largest retail corporation in the world.
For every $100 they receive in revenue, locally-owned businesses hire more local workers, purchase more goods and services from other local businesses, bank with local banks, and contribute more to local charities than their big-box competition. A 2004 Andersonville Study of Retail Economics concluded that every $100 spent in an independent local business created $68 in additional economic activity in that city, while spending $100 in a chain business generated only $43 worth of local impact. Local Waccamaw Neck businesses do not need that sort of “help.”
Before I finish, let me point out that Sunbelt Ventures, LLC is proposing this Pawleys Plaza redevelopment. SBV PIP, LLC will own the land, while Walmart would merely have to lease and stock the 119,500-square-foot store. If that store should ever be built and not meet Walmart’s profit standards, they will leave with no concern about the further impact on the Waccamaw Neck.
Tom E Stickler
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