Study: Bennington Wal-Mart would hurt other businessesThe Association Press | June 26,2008BENNINGTON — Doubling the size of Bennington’s Wal-Mart store would provide short-term growth of about 75 new retail jobs, but would trigger-long term job losses at it hurt local businesses, a new economic study has found.
Economic consultants Kavet, Rockler & Associates said construction costs on the expansion project would be about $16 million, and that sales would be expected to more than double, to about $48 million in the first year of the bigger Wal-Mart’s operations.
But it said, “Most of the expanded store’s growth will come at the expense of existing stores in the served market area, with some impact on downtown but even more on commercial areas north of the town center.
On the jobs front, the report said, “In 2009, operation of the expanded store will generate a total of about 78 jobs, mostly in the retail trade sector. Total county employment impacts over the longer term, however, shrink to zero by 2013 and ultimately decline by about 35 jobs,” the report states.
The report estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the existing downtown businesses are likely to be hurt by the Wal-Mart expansion, including those selling clothing, beauty and hair products, sporting goods, electronics, eye wear and home and hardware goods. It added that empty storefronts may remain so for longer periods.
The Wal-Mart expansion, proposed by store owner BLS Bennington, LLC, would roughly double the current store’s size to 112,000 feet. It has been hotly debated in town for years.
The town passed a cap on the size of retail stores at 75,000 feet, only to have residents overturn it in a special election in April of 2005.
The town granted permits for the project in January of 2006; it’s now before the District 8 Environmental Commission.
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