Don’t Subsidize Big Boxes at Local Shops’ Expense

By Stacy Mitchell on September 10, 2011

Sifting though the postmortem news of Borders Group’s demise, I came across a local newspaper story about a California town that had spent $1.6 million to lure a Borders bookstore to a local shopping center. According to the paper, government officials in Pico Rivera in 2003 agreed to pay part of a new Borders store’s operating expenses by providing a $10,833 monthly subsidy for the next 15 years.

That might seem like an astonishing amount of public money to give a retail shop, but what’s truly remarkable about the deal is just how unexceptional it actually is. Handing out multimillion-dollar subsidies to large chains has become commonplace in much of the country. These deals are premised on the idea that new shopping centers and big-box stores expand employment and create economic growth. The trouble is, these giveaways have done little more than help large retailers at the expense of small businesses.

Read the rest at Business Week


Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon

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