From today's Defender,
Residents, business owners and community leaders from the West Side, where Chicago's first Wal-Mart is scheduled to open this summer, spoke out Thursday against the so-called "Big Box Retail" ordinance currently before the City Council's finance committee.Drive around Austin and you'll see housing stock is in pretty good shape but the local retail is devasted. There's no local retail for Wal Mart to put out of business. Any kind of investment can only do good for the neigborhood.
Residents of Ald. Emma Mitts' 37th Ward, who would be likely candidates for jobs at the Wal-Mart when it opens, said the $10 minimum wage would deter businesses from investing in their neighborhood.
"The communities, especially on the West Side of Chicago, are excited about opportunities for jobs. We need jobs. Our communities are filled with the young and the old standing on corners with nothing to do, some laid off from companies that have closed down or moved away, some ex-offenders looking for a new start," said Frankie Freenie of the Nobel Neighbors Association in Humboldt Park.
This is as true of Galewood as it is of further east along North Ave, or at Madison and Pulaski. The only local retail that can survive now in Chicago are niche retailers for people with money, and ethnic retailers who will cater to their local communities. Everyone else will make the drive to a discounter. Might as well keep the discounter in the City. It seems so foolish to keep them out.
Espeically when you consider the City makes it none to easy for the few local folks who venture into retail either. Read Arlene Jones Why is the city harassing business owners in Austin?