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Wal-Mart's Urban Push

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It appears that the Wal-Mart on Charles is part of a larger strategy to push into urban areas, both to polish a tarnished corporate image and take advantage of the urban retail vacuum created 20 years ago.

http://www.businessweek.com/investor/conte...0404_285531.htm

What do you think of this push? Since Wal-Mart on Charles is a fait accompli, should Providence try to leverage the "Opportunity Zone" funding? Is this something that would actually benefit local suppliers to Wal-Mart or the local neighborhood?

In its latest effort to silence critics of its business practices, CEO Lee Scott announced that over the next two years Wal-Mart will open 50 stores in economically distressed parts of metropolitan areas. Those stores, the retailer claims, will create 15,000 to 25,000 new jobs.

In addition, Wal-Mart said it would designate 10 of those markets as "Wal-Mart Jobs & Opportunity Zones," where the retailer will provide assistance to businesses in those communities. This would include running seminars on how best to do business with Wal-Mart, and featuring area companies in local newspaper advertisements and on its in-store radio network. It would also include working with and making contributions to local chambers of commerce to develop programs to help area businesses.

In all, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company would donate $1.5 million in cash and free advertising in those 10 communities and could look to eventually expand the program. "We can be better for communities than we have in the past," Scott said in a telephone interview with a group of journalists. "Better for both of us."

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Walmart to help businesses in the area, and advise them how to work with Walmart? How about not moving in at all, then I bet most businesses in that area would be better off.

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On the surface, it seems fine that Wal-Mart is focusing on distressed urban areas where there is little in the way of retail services and having Wal-Mart on Silver Spring is better than an empty Ames store.

Still, I find it hard to believe that Wal-Mart would do anything altruistic and I'm afraid that its Opportunty Zone program might turn out to be window dressing much like its hyped green initiatives. While WM is better for the community than an abandoned strip mall, I would have preferred to see a Costco there --a company that has managed to well and do good at the same time.

It appears that the Wal-Mart on Charles is part of a larger strategy to push into urban areas, both to polish a tarnished corporate image and take advantage of the urban retail vacuum created 20 years ago.

http://www.businessweek.com/investor/conte...0404_285531.htm

What do you think of this push? Since Wal-Mart on Charles is a fait accompli, should Providence try to leverage the "Opportunity Zone" funding? Is this something that would actually benefit local suppliers to Wal-Mart or the local neighborhood?

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PR

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On the surface, it seems fine that Wal-Mart is focusing on distressed urban areas where there is little in the way of retail services and having Wal-Mart on Silver Spring is better than an empty Ames store.

Still, I find it hard to believe that Wal-Mart would do anything altruistic and I'm afraid that its Opportunty Zone program might turn out to be window dressing much like its hyped green initiatives. While WM is better for the community than an abandoned strip mall, I would have preferred to see a Costco there --a company that has managed to well and do good at the same time.

greg, how can you buy into this crap?! :lol: You know that Walmart chose that silverspring site not because it was distressed and blighted that they could turn around like the yellow smileyface saviors they think they are, but because it was distressed and blighted and therefore a bargain and it was zoned in such a way that it wouldn't need a use variance and no one lives right there so the chances of anyone complaining would be minimal, and that the city would be happy that something was going on down there.

I honestly cannot say that i believe that a Walmart is better than an abandoned strip mall. Plus, i don't believe those are our only choices (walmart or empty nuthin') most of the time. like many deals in this city, it isn't "opportunity" that makes deals happen, but deals that make deals happen. I can think of a few instances where property was "held" for a specific purpose even though there were many other different interested buyers.

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I hate Walmart and don't shop there. Like I said, Costco would have been ideal for that location. Or maybe a mixed use project. Problem is, how do we as citizens prevent/encourage the owner of the land from selling/leasing to Wal-Mart? How do we justify keeping an empty strip mall vacant until a better use comes along when the city is strapped for tax revenue and local residents lack retail services. Ideally, we wouldn't have Wal-Mart but what say do we have in how land gets used?

greg, how can you buy into this crap?! :lol: You know that Walmart chose that silverspring site not because it was distressed and blighted that they could turn around like the yellow smileyface saviors they think they are, but because it was distressed and blighted and therefore a bargain and it was zoned in such a way that it wouldn't need a use variance and no one lives right there so the chances of anyone complaining would be minimal, and that the city would be happy that something was going on down there.

I honestly cannot say that i believe that a Walmart is better than an abandoned strip mall. Plus, i don't believe those are our only choices (walmart or empty nuthin') most of the time. like many deals in this city, it isn't "opportunity" that makes deals happen, but deals that make deals happen. I can think of a few instances where property was "held" for a specific purpose even though there were many other different interested buyers.

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greg, how can you buy into this crap?! :lol: You know that Walmart chose that silverspring site not because it was distressed and blighted that they could turn around like the yellow smileyface saviors they think they are, but because it was distressed and blighted and therefore a bargain and it was zoned in such a way that it wouldn't need a use variance and no one lives right there so the chances of anyone complaining would be minimal, and that the city would be happy that something was going on down there.

I honestly cannot say that i believe that a Walmart is better than an abandoned strip mall. Plus, i don't believe those are our only choices (walmart or empty nuthin') most of the time. like many deals in this city, it isn't "opportunity" that makes deals happen, but deals that make deals happen. I can think of a few instances where property was "held" for a specific purpose even though there were many other different interested buyers.

While I don't agree with Wal-Mart's policies on health care , they have become a business icon. If Wal-Mart doesn't invest in that spot, what business do you think would? Sure, maybe they could extend Silver Spring Industrial Park, but they can't even fill that up. Retail outlets are badly needed in this city and retail outlets that support the demographics of this city. I would much prefer Target or Costco, but Target is still investing mostly in suburbia. Costco hasn't even entered the R.I. market.

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Oh and BTW...I think the outcry over Wal-Mart is liberal hysteria. The arguments against them are frivolous on local levels. They are #2 on the fortune 500 list. Unless the federal government regulates Wal-Mart, such states like MD, will not see legislation pass against them. In R.I., they already have their stores in Attleboro and Seekonk...much like every other retail giant. They could easily close their stores here. I welcome their investment in the city and feel their impact on other businesses is minute. Their clientele are not the same clientele as Barnes & Noble, Nordstroms, or even JC Penney. Their clientele happen to make up the majority of people that live in Prov. ....poor people.

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Wal Mart came to Hartford a little over a year ago on a site that was once one of our most notorious housing projects, Charter Oak Terrace. As the anchor tenant in a brand new plaza they have attracted many national retailers and locally owned stores and every business in the plaza seems to be doing great. I'm not an advocate, but believe me, the Wal Mart is 1000% better than what was there before, and no one else would have ever invested in the area. Now people don't even know it's Hartford anymore. I have heard co-workers say Wal Mart in West Hartford, because they are not used to having a new plaza in the city. When it was the projects, believe me, no one confused it for West Hartford and there were zero jobs in that area for young people and unskilled people. So, I don't know love em or hate em, I don't think it's really a thing to dread. Just my 2 cents.

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Oh and BTW...I think the outcry over Wal-Mart is liberal hysteria. The arguments against them are frivolous on local levels. They are #2 on the fortune 500 list. Unless the federal government regulates Wal-Mart, such states like MD, will not see legislation pass against them. In R.I., they already have their stores in Attleboro and Seekonk...much like every other retail giant. They could easily close their stores here. I welcome their investment in the city and feel their impact on other businesses is minute. Their clientele are not the same clientele as Barnes & Noble, Nordstroms, or even JC Penney. Their clientele happen to make up the majority of people that live in Prov. ....poor people.

Not only poor people shop at Wal Mart. I agree with most of your points but that's being a little elitest. I am by no means poor and have gone into plenty of Wal Marts for various items. It's just a store. If they have what I am looking for, I'll buy it. I am not making a political or social statement when I buy underwear or socks or printer cartridges, etc.

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So my question remains...as a local community, what is the right response when Wal-Mart makes a move into our urban core, and puts in place these community outreach programs? They are here now on Charles, so there is no point wishing for what that particular site "might have" or "should have" been. It is what it is.

Whats the collective response - ignore, engage, rebel, subvert...or just accept and shop?

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So my question remains...as a local community, what is the right response when Wal-Mart makes a move into our urban core, and puts in place these community outreach programs? They are here now on Charles, so there is no point wishing for what that particular site "might have" or "should have" been. It is what it is.

Whats the collective response - ignore, engage, rebel, subvert...or just accept and shop?

The only thing you really can do is make the best of it, whatever that means for you. If that's ignoring it, or protesting it, or shopping, or applying for a job!!! (you never know who's reading, which is another reason not to come off elitest)

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Poor people are not the only ones shopping at Wal-Mart. That is a real general and grossly inaccurate thing to post, and tarnishes the rest of your post.

I go to Wal-Mart in Seekonk all the time. A majority of the cars in the lot have RI plates. I am not poor.

A Wal-Mart is better than an abandoned strip mall. I dont understand how anyone can make a reasonable argument than an abandoned strip mall is better off staying that way, than letting a Wal-Mart come in.

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Not only poor people shop at Wal Mart. I agree with most of your points but that's being a little elitest. I am by no means poor and have gone into plenty of Wal Marts for various items. It's just a store. If they have what I am looking for, I'll buy it. I am not making a political or social statement when I buy underwear or socks or printer cartridges, etc.

I'm far from being an elitist or a hypocrite. I go to Wal-Mart occasionally to buy a DVD. I bought my stereo there. While I'm not poor either, I can't afford to buy an over-appreciated house here nor would I with the current maket trends. (if I could) The demographics of Providence constitute an overwhelming majority at or below the poverty level. See www.riedc.com...51.1% of people in the state had combined incomes of less than 50K. Only 15.5% had combined incomes of greater than 100K....and that's th whole state...If you take Providence , Pawtucket, and Central Falls, there's your bottom rung.....Wal-Mart is a business enterprise that is going to invest in these areas that have little or no investment....and R.I. certainly has enough people that will make their run successful. However, to equate Wal-Mart with like 7-11 or CVS, is off the mark. It's not a regular store. It's a store that will fit in nicely with Providence and do very well because there are more than enough people in this town that simply can't afford much of anything else. To think that the more affluent people of the East Side ( or W. Hartford ) would be caught dead in Wal-Mart....is totally off the mark.You go to Wal-Mart for the same reason I'd might go!

Poor people are not the only ones shopping at Wal-Mart. That is a real general and grossly inaccurate thing to post, and tarnishes the rest of your post.

I go to Wal-Mart in Seekonk all the time. A majority of the cars in the lot have RI plates. I am not poor.

A Wal-Mart is better than an abandoned strip mall. I dont understand how anyone can make a reasonable argument than an abandoned strip mall is better off staying that way, than letting a Wal-Mart come in.

I'm against hypocrisy!Sorry...

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So my question remains...as a local community, what is the right response when Wal-Mart makes a move into our urban core, and puts in place these community outreach programs? They are here now on Charles, so there is no point wishing for what that particular site "might have" or "should have" been. It is what it is.

Whats the collective response - ignore, engage, rebel, subvert...or just accept and shop?

I don't trust Walmart. This is not something they are doing out of the goodness of the corporate heart, it's a PR stunt and is certainly designed to have a direct positive impact on their bottom line. Not that I think private enterprise should not be primarily concerned with their bottom line, but in the case of Walmart, I'd question how their bottom line drive really effects this 'program.' If Walmart came to Providence making promises of investments and enterprise zones, I would make sure the city's lawyers took a very very very very careful look at the bag of goods they're trying to sell. What's the real benefit to Providence, and what is Walmart getting out of it?

And no, I do not shop at Walmart, the few times I've gone into their stores it's made me physically ill, I don't know why, do they pump some chemicals in, is it psychosomatic, am I allergic to cheap plastic and smiley faces, who knows?

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somewhere i read an analysis of walmart pricing. I wish i could find it, but it showed that walmart puts one thing wicket on sale, say a dvd player but has a very limited quantity of them and they are stacked on an endcap of an aisle. That dvd player cannot be bought for cheaper-- rolling back prices! Yellow Smiley Face wearing a cowboy hat! Yee-hah. But, they run out, and all the other dvd players are more expensive than dvd players at a comparable store, such as KMart or Target.

Now, let's say for a minute this is a true analysis (and i will try to find it) so, to say that walmarts serves the poor then would be untrue, wouldn't it? It is more like taking advantage of the poor in fact.

here's another example of that kind of "serving the poor" bs that i've run across. I had to go to the "urban" Shaws at Eagle Square when it first opened. I was desperate for some of that powdered cleansah (you know, like ajax or babbo) to polish the copper countertop i had in the kitchen. So i went down there and low and behold, in the shaws that was supposed to be serving the poor unfortunate souls of Olneyville who so desparately needed a full service grocery store, do you think they had the cheapest cleaner--the powdered stuff in a can that costs less than a dollar? No, they did not. they ONLY had name brand cleaners like Clorox Clean Up and Lysol and all those, and they were not at all cheap. IN fact, there was no cleaner there that cost less than 2.79

So, i thought, wow. maybe shaws doesn't carry that powdered cleansah anymore. So i leave. Without cleansah (i'm sorry, i can't help but say it that way, having lived here now for 22 years). And some time later I find myself at the really nice shaws out on Rt 6 in Johnston and lo and behold, i find many varieties of that powdered cleaner there, all for under a dollar.

and once more i will say that the the choice of "walmart or nothing" is in fact a fallacy. Many times other investors have been turned away from projects in providence for whatever reason because the property was being "held" for some other purpose or for some other entity.

I don't shop at walmart; i don't support walmart. I don't trust walmart but there was nothing to stop this walmart from coming to down. I wish i had been able to get trees in their parking lot, though. That would have been a nice coup.

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somewhere i read an analysis of walmart pricing. I wish i could find it, but it showed that walmart puts one thing wicket on sale, say a dvd player but has a very limited quantity of them and they are stacked on an endcap of an aisle. That dvd player cannot be bought for cheaper-- rolling back prices! Yellow Smiley Face wearing a cowboy hat! Yee-hah. But, they run out, and all the other dvd players are more expensive than dvd players at a comparable store, such as KMart or Target.

I posted something about that in another thread a few weeks ago. :) I think someone in South County did an item by item price comparison between Walmart and area stores, the local stores beat the Walmart prices. Then of course people go on to the convenience of having everything in one place, which is a valid arguement for someone taking a bus, or just from an environmental point of view. But there's no reason a village/neighbourhood center can't provide all the same services in one central location.

here's another example of that kind of "serving the poor" bs that i've run across. I had to go to the "urban" Shaws at Eagle Square when it first opened. I was desperate for some of that powdered cleansah (you know, like ajax or babbo) to polish the copper countertop i had in the kitchen. So i went down there and low and behold, in the shaws that was supposed to be serving the poor unfortunate souls of Olneyville who so desparately needed a full service grocery store, do you think they had the cheapest cleaner--the powdered stuff in a can that costs less than a dollar? No, they did not. they ONLY had name brand cleaners like Clorox Clean Up and Lysol and all those, and they were not at all cheap. IN fact, there was no cleaner there that cost less than 2.79

So, i thought, wow. maybe shaws doesn't carry that powdered cleansah anymore. So i leave. Without cleansah (i'm sorry, i can't help but say it that way, having lived here now for 22 years). And some time later I find myself at the really nice shaws out on Rt 6 in Johnston and lo and behold, i find many varieties of that powdered cleaner there, all for under a dollar.

Not to try to move onto too much of a tangent, but I've noticed groceries at the Eagle Square Shaw's costing much more. I know there have been fuel surcharges to deal with, and some weather events have raised the cost of some corps, but still... Although it's not as expensive as the Stop & Shop on West River Street/Branch Ave. My boyfriend got a Stop & Shop gift card for Christmas for work, so we made one of our shopping trips out there, my gawd the prices! :shok: While the selection was better than the Eagle Square Shaws, the prices totally wiped away the savings we got from the gift card.

I do buy $0.79 dish soap at Eagle Square Shaws with a spanish label on it. Good stuff, smells like anise.

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I do buy $0.79 dish soap at Eagle Square Shaws with a spanish label on it. Good stuff, smells like anise.

I buy everything Spanish at Stop and Shop. It's so much cheaper. Vanilla wafers, $.59 each, can of chickpeas, $.69 each, can't beat it!

I think it's a fallacy that Walmart is pretending that it will better its neighborhood. How exactly will it do that? Okay, it will offer supposedly cheap (althought we're not even sure of that anymore) goods to people who can't afford to spend a lot of money. It's not like it's going to bring any employees it hires out of poverty, given its crappy salaries and crappy benefits. And it's not going to do any good for local businesses around it. So what will it do?

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So what will it do?

It will provide a shopping DSTINATION for the majority of people that live in this city. Love it or hate it, it's the truth!!That's the issue. You can't be an advocate for more alternate transportation methods , increased density, and tax-equalization while not being pro-business, anti-entitlement, and anti-development. Historic character is something that the city has done very well to preserve. Now it is time to integrate historic preservation with development that increases the tax base and can provide opportunities for all its residents. Wal-Mart is a tax-paying entity that will provide much needed retail to the city that would otherwise travel to Johnston or Seekonk to shop. Did anyone see Projo's article on commercial taxes in Prov being the 3rd highest in the nation? That is a disgrace. Whether the shift has been taken away from the property owner is insignificant....We need economic development. If the infrastructure ( ex.abandoned shopping plaza) can support a new retail destination, it should be developed as such..Only then could one argue, in a small city like Prov, that increased density, more transprtation methods, etc. could be viable........DESTINATIONS where people would have enough reason to take public transportation..

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I don't trust Walmart. This is not something they are doing out of the goodness of the corporate heart, it's a PR stunt and is certainly designed to have a direct positive impact on their bottom line.

Nightline (ABC 6) is picking up this story tonight 11:30 PM (Wednesday April 05) - like right now - storyline is "will they help the businesses they are accused of crushing in the past".

UPDATE: well that was worthless. Shows how bad TV news has become, it was a 3 minute story that hit the obvious points...deceptive PR, yes or no? The Duke lacrosse scandal got 10 minutes, because it involved strippers and sex.

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i dont think this walmart will attract TOO MANY new customers, it'll just save people the drive to the cranston and warwick walmarts.. but as far as new customers... how many residents in that area have no car?

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.. but as far as new customers... how many residents in that area have no car?

Probably quite a few. But it's not like Walmart's gonna do anything to make pedestrian access to it easy anyway...or will they...

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It will provide a shopping DSTINATION for the majority of people that live in this city. Love it or hate it, it's the truth!!That's the issue. You can't be an advocate for more alternate transportation methods , increased density, and tax-equalization while not being pro-business, anti-entitlement, and anti-development. Historic character is something that the city has done very well to preserve. Now it is time to integrate historic preservation with development that increases the tax base and can provide opportunities for all its residents. Wal-Mart is a tax-paying entity that will provide much needed retail to the city that would otherwise travel to Johnston or Seekonk to shop. Did anyone see Projo's article on commercial taxes in Prov being the 3rd highest in the nation? That is a disgrace. Whether the shift has been taken away from the property owner is insignificant....We need economic development. If the infrastructure ( ex.abandoned shopping plaza) can support a new retail destination, it should be developed as such..Only then could one argue, in a small city like Prov, that increased density, more transprtation methods, etc. could be viable........DESTINATIONS where people would have enough reason to take public transportation..

You make very good points, and I'm all for the redevelopment of abandoned shopping plazas, etc, creating destinations. I just think that Walmart as a destination is sad.

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Did anyone see Projo's article on commercial taxes in Prov being the 3rd highest in the nation? That is a disgrace. Whether the shift has been taken away from the property owner is insignificant....

Jerry, are you kidding me with this? Do you own property in Providence and pay taxes? I do. I have a strong vested interest in this city and I personally feel the tax structure is completly fair. Even after your personal disagreement with the current rate structure I'd like to point out that me and my fellow individual property owners still pay more than half of the total property tax base revenue in this city. Business doesn't even pay the full amount of the rest. There are other issues to consider beside what you pay in property taxes. There are still plenty of other state subsidies in it's tax structure that make up for this seemingly unfair burden on business. I don't mean to be disrespectful to you, but cut me a break here. If the trade off is that we'd get to have a business climate like Atlanta, thanks but no thanks. Slow and steady and holding our own works just fine for me and many of my neighbors.

People complain about Providence taxes and yet I don't get it. I own property in Providence, East Providence and,now, South Kingstown. My taxes are the lowest in PROVIDENCE. Yup, Providence. My rate is nearly $2 more per $1000 in East Providence and $1.25 more in South County. That is even after you remove the homestead exemption on my Providence home. I'm having a hard time swallowing much of what people who complain say. Do I pay more than people in other areas of the country. Yes. But the trade off in quality of life and societal support is worth the price for me. If it's not for you, then move. But don't try and say that it's unfair here. Just admit that the lifestyle of the area is not for you and move on. (I'm not directing that statement to you personally, I'm just doing the rant thing to anyone who'll listen! :) )

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Jerry, are you kidding me with this? Do you own property in Providence and pay taxes? I do. I have a strong vested interest in this city and I personally feel the tax structure is completly fair. Even after your personal disagreement with the current rate structure I'd like to point out that me and my fellow individual property owners still pay more than half of the total property tax base revenue in this city. Business doesn't even pay the full amount of the rest. There are other issues to consider beside what you pay in property taxes. There are still plenty of other state subsidies in it's tax structure that make up for this seemingly unfair burden on business. I don't mean to be disrespectful to you, but cut me a break here. If the trade off is that we'd get to have a business climate like Atlanta, thanks but no thanks. Slow and steady and holding our own works just fine for me and many of my neighbors.

People complain about Providence taxes and yet I don't get it. I own property in Providence, East Providence and,now, South Kingstown. My taxes are the lowest in PROVIDENCE. Yup, Providence. My rate is nearly $2 more per $1000 in East Providence and $1.25 more in South County. That is even after you remove the homestead exemption on my Providence home. I'm having a hard time swallowing much of what people who complain say. Do I pay more than people in other areas of the country. Yes. But the trade off in quality of life and societal support is worth the price for me. If it's not for you, then move. But don't try and say that it's unfair here. Just admit that the lifestyle of the area is not for you and move on. (I'm not directing that statement to you personally, I'm just doing the rant thing to anyone who'll listen! :) )

The Projo quoted commercial taxes, not property taxes. Providence is leading the nation. Before you go off on a rant, please re-read my post. Thanks.

P.S. If you think Providence's COMMERCIAL taxes are so fair, can you explain why businesses avoid the city like the plague?

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