OPINION: Vision for Brooklyn does not include Walmart
According to many, Brooklyn is in the midst of a Renaissance. There are Brooklyn restaurants in the Michelin guide and Brooklyn apartments in Architectural Digest. You can order a Brooklyn lager in Hong Kong.
You know what they call something chic in Paris these days? Trés Brooklyn!
Yes, the Brooklyn brand is strong. But the people who live here still need help to turn that popularity into prosperity. This is a time of opportunity for Brooklyn. From attracting major companies to protecting small businesses, our choices as a borough must continue Brooklyn on that path.
As borough president, I will work to ensure that Brooklyn is a place where residents have limitless opportunities, feel safe, and take pride in calling the borough home. That means protecting the economy we already have, and preserving the strong traditions of the self-made business owner and the proud worker that have strengthened Brooklyn for generations.
It also means making sure Walmart does not come in and destroy small businesses and abuse our workers.
Throughout Brooklyn, there are hundreds of acres of land that are waiting to be developed responsibly. Empty land sites, from Downtown Brooklyn to Sheepshead Bay, need developers who will embrace the diversity and specific concerns of the communities where they are located.
These sites should welcome retailers and companies that will lift up the local economy, bring good-paying jobs, allow workers to organize — all while providing quality goods and products at affordable prices. Walmart does not fit that bill.
I plan to work closely with developers and landowners to bring in businesses that will provide what Brooklyn needs. We need companies that are true job creators and value the unique character of our borough.
Small businesses and mom-and-pop shops are the backbone of Brooklyn’s economy. We also need to protect them and offer them opportunities to expand.
Immigrants from all over the world come to Brooklyn to establish restaurants that specialize in their native cuisine, bodegas that sell fresh fruits, and boutiques with fashionable merchandise. These local, homegrown businesses provide jobs that residents desperately need and give back to the community. We need to give them the resources to succeed in our borough.
Ensuring land sites are developed responsibly and protecting small businesses are not small tasks, especially as competition from national chains heats up. Big-box retailers want to enter our borough and Walmart, in particular, has been eyeing available sites in Brooklyn for years. The retailer is looking for as-of-right locations in order to avoid approval from the city, and we must remain vigilant.
While Walmart claims it brings jobs with good wages and affordable health benefits, its track record is evidence to the contrary. When it enters a community, the world’s largest retailer can force small businesses to close and often does not bring jobs that allow workers to provide for their families.
However, there are many big box retailers and corporate chains that decide not to put profits before wages and benefits for their employees. Costco and ShopRite are examples of responsible companies that provide good job opportunities and products for the community while maintaining a healthy bottom line.
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