Organic Consumers Association

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Charlotte, NC Wal-Mart Looking for $500,000 Subsidy

A Wal-Mart developer in Charlotte, North Carolina is looking for a handout. In fact, he's looking for a half million dollar tax bailout in order to give Charlotte another Wal-Mart supercenter. There are currently "only" eight Wal-Mart stores in Charlotte, half of them are supercenters.

So another Wal-Mart for Charlotte is akin to bringing coals to Newcastle, or swallows to Capistrano. The idea of the public having to pay for the privilege of having another Wal-Mart is adding insult to injury. The Charlotte Business Journal reports this week that the developer, Faison and Associates, has asked city taxpayers to pony up $500,000 for a Wal-Mart supercenter in the abandoned Amity Gardens Shopping Center.

Faison says it doesn't have enough money to pay for a road connecting the project to the abutting Coliseum Shopping Center. This boondoggle was first announced in 2006, when the city gave the land in question a rezoning. The zoning change allowed a mix of retail and other commercial uses for the property, but Faison is building only the 155,000-s.f.

Wal-Mart superstore. City officials seems to be happy to subsidize this wealthy developer and the world's richest retailer, because the project represents a $25 million investment in the city. So what's the big deal if taxpayers have to toss in $400,000 for road construction, and another $100,000 to clean up contamination on the site? There is no way that Wal-Mart could afford to chip in---their budget has been blown on image advertising and lobbying contributions. 

Developer Henry Faison has been described as one of Charlotte's most prolific developers. Faison told the city he has to have the corporate welfare for a special road to the property, and for environmental cleanup. The developer reportedly could not tell the city the total cost for the cleanup-he only knows it's more than he wants to spend. Faison and Wal-Mart have poor-mouthed the city, and gone on the dole to protect their profits.

The city council did not need to be urged to charge this cost to city taxpayers. Americans like to complain about all the deadbeats on welfare---but Wal-Mart has drawn down millions of dollars in such subsidies without even blushing.

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