DionRabouin.com (sort of)

East Point Economic Future May Include New Wal-Mart

Posted in Articles by dionrabouin on August 16, 2012

By Dion Rabouin

(Written for The Atlanta Voice)

EAST POINT – City officials are moving forward with an ambitious economic agenda designed to spur growth in the city and offset a decade-long trend of population and revenue loss.

The plan includes speculation that a Walmart store may soon be in the city’s economic future.

City Councilman Alexander Gothard said council officials discussed the Walmart idea during a meeting this week, but had yet to decide whether they would approve a deal to bring the retail giant to town.

“I think a Walmart would be good for the city,” Gothard said. “We just want to do all that we can to make it as robust [as possible]; to encompass everything that we can have it encompass and to give our residents the best.”

The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart typically generates jobs, heightened economic activity and spin-off development when it moves into a community, observers say – potentially good news for the struggling Atlanta suburb.

A spokesman for real estate development firm R.H. Ledbetter said the company is in talks with the City Council about bringing a large national retailer to East Point, but would not say what retailer is being considered.

“We’re working with city of East Point… trying to finalize a development agreement between us and the city,” said Joe Holmes, development manager for R.H. Ledbetter. “At this point, we can’t release anything, but hopefully we’ll be able to in the coming weeks or months.”

The possibility of Walmart coming to town was addressed during a recent business development meeting that included residents, elected officials and business owner and executives.

One concern voiced by residents was how the economic development plan and the possible arrival of Walmart would affect existing local businesses.

“What we’re facing as a city is… how are we going to keep those existing businesses in business?” asked East Point resident James Johnson. “I don’t even know if a Walmart is coming. The real issue is… what is it going to do for the businesses that are currently in East Point?”

During the business development meeting, conducted by the Bleakly Advisory Group, officials released an “action plan” for growth in East Point. The action plan represented the final step in a strategic economic development plan for East Point that has been going on for more than a year.

Bleakly representatives said their plan had several key goals for the city, including: grow the tax base, grow the population, grow jobs, capitalize on city assets, revitalize older neighborhoods, and attract more spending from outside East Point.

The consulting group also advised city officials to expand the business sector, target downtown development, make it simpler for entrepreneurs to do business in the city, and enhance residents’ quality of life by improving existing homes.

According to the plan’s findings, East Point has seen a 15 percent reduction in population since 2000, has drastically plunging home sale prices, and has a 14 percent unemployment rate – more than two percent higher than Fulton County’s average.

Results from the economic development study will be available starting next month at www.eastpointcity.org, officials said.

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One Response

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  1. Christopher Charles said, on September 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    East Points economic troubles are not specific to East Point. They occur all over the Atlanta area, particularly south of I-20. Wal-Mart is not, nor ever has been, the economic miracal worker that its propnents claim it to be. Traditionally, Wal-Mart serves as the death knell for all other businesses in the area, as well as not quite delivering on the econonic boom it always promises for the areas it shows up in. Every business in the propsed area will be gone for good with in a year of this development. It may create taxes for the city, but will do little else as far as raising property values, or attracting people to move to East point. If East Point wants Wal-Mart, then it should find an area that doesnt require the city to give the developer a $2.5 million waiver from the city for back taxes on the proposeed property, plus disposal costs and other fees. Wal-Mart is hardly a cash strapped corporation. They should be sholdering the bill if they want the property so badly.


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