Wal-Mart Continues to Benefit From Economic Development Subsidies: Report

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here, often accused of growing at the expense of smaller retailers, continues to benefit enormously from state and local government economic development subsidies, including 39 deals worth more than $200 million in just the past three years, said Good Jobs First, a non-profit research group based in Washington D.C.

The claim about Wal-Mart's record of receiving subsidies surfaced in an update released yesterday of a 2004 report called "Shopping for Subsidies." The 2004 edition reported more than $1 billion in subsidies for Wal-Mart facilities.

"What we said in 2004 still holds true today," said Philip Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First, in a statement. "Wal-Mart presents itself as an entrepreneurial success story, yet it routinely gets big tax breaks, free land, cash grants, and other forms of taxpayer assistance."

Greg LeRoy, executive director at Good Jobs First, added, "That a company with a predatory business model and a poverty-wage labor policy can even qualify for job subsidies suggests many public officials still don't get it. When they sit down at the table with Wal-Mart, the prize at stake is not a new Wal-Mart; the prize is access to more market share."

The new subsidy deals are estimated to benefit 30 Wal-Mart stores and nine distribution centers in 15 states, according to the group. The stores accounted for $190 million of the $220 million total, an average of $6 million per store. The distribution centers accounted for $30 million, an average of $3 million per facility. The distribution center amount is understated, because several warehouses will enjoy enterprise zone benefits, the value of which cannot be estimated before the centers open and begin hiring, the group said in the report.

The state with the most new deals was Illinois, with nine. It was followed by Florida and Missouri, with four each; Arizona, California and Kansas, with three each; and Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio, with two each. Alabama, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, and Wyoming each struck one recent deal with Wal-Mart, according to the report. Illinois also accounts for the most deals in the entire Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch database, with 38.

Details of the 39 new deals, combined with more than 240 deals from the 2004 report, are available on a new searchable Web site called Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch (http://www.walmartsubsidywatch.org). The original 2004 Shopping for Subsidies report and other Good Jobs First material can be found at http://www.goodjobsfirst.org.
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