Walmart recently announced the closing of 269 stores worldwide. It will impact 16,000 employees and the many communities where the stores are currently located. When a Walmart comes to a smaller town, local stores may no longer be able to compete and close up leaving Walmart the only choice for clothes or food. In larger markets there may be many Walmart stores to choose from.
When a company comes into a community many times they are looking for TIF money. Tax Increment Financing is how municipalities self-finance redevelopment programs. The company is looking for tax breaks and other ways of offsetting their costs. In return, the company makes promises to the community. These companies proclaim how good their company is going to be for the community, the jobs they will bring to the community and the overall positive impact they will have on the community. Smaller, local companies are usually not afforded the opportunity to take advantage of TIF money.
What happens to a community when the company decides to pull out? What is the company’s responsibility to the community? Is there an accountability that the company has to the community? Who decides these things? Should the decision to close a store be solely based on the bottom line or should commitments to the community be part of the decision? What are the values of the organization that drive these decisions?
If a company is going to talk about the importance they will play in the quality of life of the community they are looking to locate in, then it only seems right that that quality of life is considered when the same company is considering moving out and looking for greener pastures. If a company gains a benefit coming in to town, should that same company pay a cost for leaving? The people who lived there before the company arrived will be there afterwards; only the quality of life in their community will now be different.