Thursday, February 1, 2007

Closer eye on where big box stores go?

How do you win over College Hill voters' hearts? (or at least the most vocal ones) Get tough on Wal-Mart.

That's part of Elizabeth Bishop's strategy as she takes on Sue Schlapp and several other candidates in northeast Wichita's District 2.

Bishop proposes copying Lawrence, which now requires big box stores, like Wal-Mart, to conduct their own "retail market impact study." In short, the company has to pay an independent consultant that they haven't worked with in at least five years to find out how the big box will affect local retail shops.

It's a clear pitch to appeal to hundreds of College Hill residents who came out strong against the now dead proposal for a Wal-Mart SuperCenter at Kellogg and Oliver. What's unclear, at least in her initial candidacy announcement, is how that jives with the theme of the city elections this year: economic development.

The Wal-Mart would have added 300 jobs, after all. Of course, as Bishop alludes to, it's not clear how many other jobs and ownerships would have been lost if the store would have won the Council's approval.

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