Although few cities take full advantage of them, planning and zoning powers are among the most potent tools communities have for shaping their economies. Two recent decisions, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, underscore why land use planning matters and how smart policies can strengthen the local economy and protect good jobs.… Read More
The Maine legislature has given its approval to a bill that requires cities and towns to evaluate the economic effects of large-scale retail development and to approve only those projects that will not have an adverse impact on jobs, local businesses, and municipal finances. The legislation is the first of its kind in the nation.… Read More
Many local officials would undoubtedly reconsider big-box projects if they knew that a new mega-store would eliminate more jobs than it creates, or that it would cost the city more in public services than it generates in tax revenue . But most cities do not assess the likely economic impacts of retail development. They assume that these stores expand the local economy and approve them blind to the potential costs. Legislation under consideration in Maine would remedy this by stipulating that cities may approve stores over 75,000 square feet only after an independent economic analysis is conducted.… Read More
As the company’s misdeeds pile up in the public consciousness, it can be tempting to define the problem of Wal-Mart as one of a bad apple—a rogue company gone awry in an otherwise sound economic system.
Wal-Mart has indeed attained a scale that puts it in a category all its own, and there’s no question that it is leading a race to the bottom. But others are running that race too. Target’s wages are as poor and its health benefits as out of reach. Home Depot and Lowe’s have crushed thousands of independent hardware stores. Best Buy has its main sourcing office Shanghai, where it relies on the same dismal factories.
A new report prepared for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission concludes that retail development costs cities more in public services than it generates in revenue. The report, produced by Randall Gross of Development Economics in Washington, D.C., reviews and summarizes the findings of fiscal impact studies conducted in eight central Ohio communities between 1997 and 2003.… Read More