There is absolutely no way to determine whether or not Wal-Mart will have a positive effect on Pullman’s economy without a full fiscal impact study, most wisely one that covers the entire retail region that includes both Pullman and Moscow. But there are plenty of studies that do define the negative impacts of Wal-Mart in cities like Pullman and Moscow, and tons of anecdotal evidence. What?? That's doubletalk. PARD can't have it both ways. They can't cite lack of a fiscal impact study against Wal-Mart and then use their own self-admitted anecdotal "evidence". And there is much more positive anecdotal evidence if they want to go that route.
Anecdotal case in point: Cheyenne, Wyo., has a population very close to the population of Whitman and Latah counties combined. Wal-Mart in Cheyenne built a new super center last spring to the rear of the old Wal-Mart, which was then torn down. The super center opened sometime during the summer. Last week two Cheyenne grocery stores closed. What does that have to with the price of eggs in China? How many businesses closed last week nationwide? How many businesses have opened in Cheyenne since the Wal-Mart Supercenter came in? This is the worst kind of factual cherry-picking. I can point to half-dozen other towns off the top of my head where other stores have moved in after a Supercenter opened. The problem with the use of such "evidence" is that there is no linkage between cause and effect. For example, one of the shuttered supermarkets was Econofoods, owned by the Nash Finch Company based out of Edina, MN. Nash Finch got in trouble with the SEC and shareholders a few years back and was almost delisted from NASDAQ. In 2004, the multi-billion dollar company announced that it was closing ten underperforming Econofoods stores to improve profits. Earnings per share had much more to do with the Cheyenne closure than anything else. Do we really care about the strategic moves that national “behemoths” make? Don't cry for "Mom and Pop". It's about Wall Street, not Wal-Mart or Main Street. Econofoods had only been in Cheyenne for about six years anyway, Nash Finch having acquired the location from another grocery chain.
Whitman and Latah counties comprise a long-established retail region. We need to know what will happen if two Wal-Mart super centers open. What does a Moscow Supercenter have to do with anything? Whitman and Latah Counties are two completely different, competing retail regions. What's good for one will likely be bad for the other. How do you study that?
We need to know if this region can sustain a Lowes and a Home Depot, as well as our current building and hardware businesses. And this affects Wal-Mart how? How is that Wal-Mart's (or Pullman's) problem? Is she honestly advocating that Wal-Mart fund a study about what OTHER retailers in OTHER jurisdictions may do?
We need to know if Wheatland Center, the Palouse Mall and Eastside Marketplace won’t gradually darken if there is a strip mall in Whitman County just outside of Moscow, and a big-box mall on the Troy Highway. Sorry, I'm laughing too hard to type. What planet are these people from? The only thing that is "darkening" is the level of intelligence in this debate. And the Wheatland Mall? Sheesh. Where was PARD when Safeway up and pulled out and left that big store there dark? I think Safeway should put a park or low-income housing there. And I hope Citizen Hosick, as a long-term Pullman resident, would be much more concerned about what happens in Pullman instead of the Palouse Mall and the Eastside Marketplace. I may sound a bit provincial, but I personally don’t care how a Supercenter in Pullman will affect the Palouse Mall or the Eastside Marketplace. What I care about is the fact that tens of millions of Pullman’s taxable retail dollars are being exported over the state line every year, and all PARD can do is to continue offering anecdotes, rumor, distortions and false information. Don’t they care about our schools, parks, libraries, streets, and emergency services?
Pullman finally has two days available for a real public hearing, in conjunction with the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development appeal of the SEPA and the site plan of the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter. If you were not able to testify at the hearing Friday, come to City Hall for the final hearing day at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Let the hearing officer know that this project needs a lot more planning. This project?????? Which one???? Hosick mentions several. HELLO!!!!?????? THIS IS A HEARING ON WAL-MART IN PULLMAN. Go fight the Lowe's development and the Moscow Supercenter on your own time but don't waste ours. Please, Citizen Hosick, please be sure to mention this to the Hearing Examiner again on Friday. I want to see his reaction when you object to a Wal-Mart in Pullman because it didn't conduct a fiscal impact study on two unrelated projects in two other jurisdictions.
Monday, January 16, 2006
There You Go Again
Cynthia "Impartial Private Citizen" Hosick has yet another letter to the editor printed in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News titled "Impact study needed for Wal-Mart":