Walmart drains more money than it brings in
To the editor:
Does Pittsfield really need another Walmart? How could the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority think that relocating Walmart will aid in economic development? There will be 350 construction jobs that will come and go in a year and 100 additional Walmart jobs that barely pay enough to cover basic living expenses.
Here's some basic economics about retail businesses: they bring products into the community and take money out. Yes, they pay local people who work in them and those wages generally remain in the community, but on balance, the businesses take money out of the community. How else could they stock their shelves?
When money is steadily being taken out of the community, the community needs to replace it with money coming in or it will decline economically. Retail businesses cannot survive by selling only to their own employees. A walk through the Berkshire Mall will make it pretty clear that this community is in decline.
What we desperately need in the Berkshires are businesses that bring money into the community. We need businesses that make stuff here or provide services that originate here and sell them outside the community. For example, Sabic (the former GE Plastics) brought lots of money into the community with a headquarters operation and hundreds of salaries supported by worldwide sales. But they're leaving.
I know there are other local companies that sell outside the community. I see giant Unistress construction girders passing through Pittsfield on their way to other parts of the country and Guardian Insurance has what I assume is a local headquarters (it used to be Berkshire Life) that pays employees with money earned outside the community. This is what we need, not more retail outlets.
Tourism is a mixed bag. It definitely brings money into the community but, in the case of chain hotels, also takes some out in payments to the parent companies. Much of the money that remains in the community is in the form of relatively low wages.
I thought that the original intent behind the William Stanley Business Park was to replace the GE Transformer business with other businesses that would bring money into the community. If that was in fact the intent, Walmart is a poor choice.
I wish the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority would focus on finding businesses that sell outside the community and bring in money.
Douglas Baldwin, Pittsfield