Utah Stories examines the afftect of the following Wal-Mart stores along the Wasatch front:


Wal-Mart: Friend or Foe  


Sunday, March 27, 2005  

"My reasoning has always been -and people hate me to say this- but we need the tax revenue that it generates into our city," Cowdell said.Mike Jerman, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said Wal-Mart and city officials shouldn't be held entirely responsible in the race for sales-tax revenues. Rather, the tax system itself is to blame, he said.

In Utah, half of sales-tax revenues go to the city where the sale was made and the other half goes to a general pot distributed by population. The point-of-sale portion, Jerman said, encourages cities to recruit big-box retailers.

"It's kind of a Cold War mentality. Basically what you have is cities competing against each other for sales-tax dollars," Jerman said. 








Primary Investigation & Question:




The debate ultimatly comes down to a question of economics:

Does Wal-Mart ultimately benefit or undermine cities economic vitality?

As Scott Cowdell believes: Should cities really be competing against each other for tax revenue that big boxes generate? If this is true how did they ever manage before the big box era?

Wal-Mart doesn't provide any sense of place in communities. Areas with thriving local stores, restaurants, markets etc. maintain higher property values than those that don't. (source)

Wal-Mart nearly always makes the roads they are built on more congested and requires townships to support a higher volume of traffic.

As a result of the big box wars, former massive big boxes to become vacant, blighting neighborhoods and decreasing property values for those areas.

As more big boxes are introduced a greater police force is required to handle the increase in crime that always accompanies stores open 24 hours per day. (source)

Sixty percent of the net profits that Wal-Mart produces move out of the local economy, whereas local business maintain all profits in the local economy. Is justification of building a Walmart for tax incentives really an overall benefit to a community? (source)

Are these unseen costs factored in when city council members bend over backwards to attract the big boxes in there area?
























Sandy Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart fight brewing (archived on wakeup

August 25, 2005

Mayor Tom Dolan, who has been an outspoken advocate for the Boyer Co. development, and City Council members Scott Cowdell and Bryant Anderson

Even though Horn would not discuss a spending limit for the Sandy campaign, Wal-Mart has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaigns in other cities. In Flagstaff, Ariz., Wal-Mart spent between $200,000 and $400,000 this spring on its way to winning a 51 percent victory for larger square footage rules that permitted super centers. An ad campaign in Flagstaff promoting Wal-Mart's efforts likened the opposition to Nazi book burning and censorship; the Wal-Mart public relations executive responsible for the ad was forced to resign.


In 2004, voters in Inglewood, Calif., defeated a proposed super center that would have bypassed zoning and environmental requirements, even after the company spent an estimated $1 million on an ad campaign in the Los Angeles suburb.


Question: How much did Wal-Mart spend in their campaign to convince Sandy residents? What has happened to Save Our Communities, Robyn Bagley, since they lost their battle?



Sandy community group squares off against huge retailers


July 19, 2005

The brouhaha erupted when a divided City Council approved a rezone for a 100-acre, out-of-use gravel pit near 9400 South and 1000 East. The vote paved the way for a mixed-use project that would include a Super Wal-Mart, Lowe's, 300-plus homes, a smattering of small stores and restaurants and a mini-park.

The project foes fear the development will bring traffic problems and safety concerns to the area.

City leaders argue that Sandy stands to lose badly needed tax dollars because both big-box retailers are looking to leave town unless they can build in the gravel pit.,1249,600145736,00.html

Saturday, July 2, 2005

The state's high court said Friday that Save Our Communities, a group of Sandy residents who have fought big box development, had enough signatures to force a referendum on a zoning change that would allow development on a 107-acre former gravel pit at 1000 East and 9400 South.

The 5-0 decision means residents across Utah will have an easier time getting their issues onto the ballot, potentially bolstering grass-roots efforts statewide.

"You can fight city hall," said Cynthia Long from Save Our Communities. "If you believe in something, you should speak up and try to make a difference in something that truly matters to you.

A big-box victory - Sandy pit will be developed

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Sandy has welcomed Wal-Mart.

A sign urging voters to approve development in Sandy gravel pit stands outside area Tuesday. Measure passed 53 percent to 47 percent. (Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press)

Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press

A sign urging voters to approve development in Sandy gravel pit stands outside area Tuesday. Measure passed 53 percent to 47 percent.

Residents voted 10,421 to 9,203 Tuesday to approve a zone change that allows big-box development at a former gravel pit at 9400 South and 1000 East....

"We are really grateful to those voters who really understood why the planning commission approved this project," said Wade Williams, director of retail development for Boyer. "We are committed to convince those who didn't see it that way that this is a quality project that will benefit the community, will be aesthetically pleasing and will bring tax benefits to the community."

Save Our Communities, whose members opposed the zone change, campaigned vigorously against the change, but ultimately did not have the resources or votes to prevail. The group bet that a grass-roots campaign run on roughly $16,000 could beat a similar group backed by the world's richest company.


Question: What does Save Our Communities now think about the new store? With all of the recent tax revenue gained in the Sandy coffers due to their recent boom in office development do they now have any regrets that they previously saw Wal-Mart as such a tax necessity?

Sandy's Quarry Bend project begins

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Apr 1, 2006

"I don't believe in my career I've ever been involved in a process quite like this, where, literally, we did get the entire community of Sandy involved," said Wade Williams, director of retail development for Boyer Co. "And ultimately, the voters really decided the outcome of this, which was very, very unique."


"It will probably be one of the most upscale stores we build," said Don Schulthies, Wal-Mart marketing manager for Salt Lake City. The old building was tired and outdated, he said. The new store will not be the "typical, old-time, blue concrete box."

Question: Did the store turn out to be such an upscale beautiful place like Boyer envisioned?


Centerville Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart: impact of a Retail Giant: Challenging Wal-Mart

August 20, 2004

"Wal-Mart is destroying hometown America," Norman said in an interview. "It's destroying the unique sense of place in this country. It's making every town indistinguishable and it's also doing a number on our economy."

Back in Centerville City, where Wal-Mart agreed to make some concessions to the residents' demands -- the company agreed to put a 200-foot buffer zone and four rows of trees between the proposed store and a retirement community adjacent to it -- the local Planning Commission declined the company's application in a deadlock 3-3 vote, marking a small victory for members of Centerville Citizens First.

Question: Are Centerville opponents happy about having their Wal-Mart now?


Draper Wal-Mart

 Friend or foe? Wal-Mart alters Utah landscape

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Draper City Manager Eric Keck said the city solved its initial qualms about the retailer through open and ongoing discussions. But he noted local grocery stores have seen a decrease in business since the retailer moved in.

Smith's suffered the most, losing nearly 30 percent of its market share, Keck said.

"I was expecting worse. You read a lot about Wal-Mart and how they just throw their weight around," Keck said. "But they bent over backward for every concern that we raised about the building fitting into the hillside."

That spirit of compromise forged a good relationship between residents and Wal-Mart, said Bill Rappleye, CEO of the Draper Chamber of Commerce. Since moving in, the retailer has donated more than $1,000 to local arts in Draper and has put Wal-Mart representatives on the city's Chamber Board.


Question: Have these other local grocery stores managed to survive since this time?


Parleys/Sugarhouse Wal-Mart


Wal-Mart wants to repalce old Sugar House Kmart with new Supercenter


Alison McFarland, Salt Lake City's economic development director, said Wal-Mart can move into the existing Kmart building without much debate or input from the community.

Question: How does Alison belive that this shouldn't be a decision that involves the community? Won the proposed Wal-Mart affect traffic roadways, other local retialers and potentially property values? Why does Sorren Simonson believe otherwise?


Heber Valley Wal-Mart (proposed)

Rally in Heber City to start petition drive

Deseret News (Salt Lake City) ,   Mar 9, 2007

What's next: A rally to begin the referendum petition drive to put the big-box ordinance on the ballot, organized by members of grass-roots group Put Heber Valley First!

Question: What are citizens in Heber doing to attempt to keep the retail giant out? Have polls been conducted showing whether a majority of citizens favor or oppose Wal-Mart?

What has happened in other very small towns such as the Heber Valley where Wal-Marts have opened?