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Supercenter's benefits touted in detailed study
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If the Wal-Mart Supercenter is approved as part of the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center, what kind of economic impact can be expected in Ceres? Lots according to a study of 21 California communities where Supercenters opened, the city-wide taxable retail sales have increased in the year following the opening of the Supercenter.

A study by Navigant Consulting, Inc., showed that city-wide taxable retail sales have continued to increase in each subsequent year in all communities that have had Supercenters for multiple years.

"The presence of Walmart Supercenters in any California community enhances as it relates to local revenues and business development," said Lon Hatamiya, a director at Navigant Consulting and former Secretary of California's Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency. "According to the study, Walmart's benefits are not limited to metropolitan or suburban communities, but also help economically challenged rural areas such as the Central Valley and Imperial Valley."

The study indicated that taxable sales for other retail outlets (including restaurants and bars, building materials and farm implements, auto dealers and supply, and service stations) also increased in each community following the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. According to Hatamiya, these increases averaged over $72 million compared to the year prior to the opening for 15 locations with available data.

"This was an average increase of 10.5 percent for each city," said Hatamiya.

He said the growth in sales tax revenue was due to a number of factors, including increased retail traffic brought on by a Supercenter appears for other related service providers. But he said the increases in "were not solely the result of Wal-Mart's presence, but also the result of other new businesses opening in the same communities."

Regardless of population, all California communities which opened a Wal-Mart Supercenter also enjoyed sizeable gains in citywide taxable retail sales. Cities with populations under 50,000 had an average increase of more than $64.2 million.

Hatamiya said the Valley, where economic growth is historically the slowest in the state, experienced strong city-wide taxable retail sales gains after the opening of Wal-Mart Supercenters. An example is that Stockton saw an increase of $122.3 million or 21.4 percent between the year before the opening of a Supercenter. In Dinuba, the number himped $49.9 million or 12.8 percent while Hanford saw an $32.4 million increase in sales or 10 percent.

"Just as impressive, all of the aforementioned communities also experienced a gain in the number of retail business permits over this same period," he said.

In 18 of 21 communities, the number of business permits increased in the year following the opening of the Supercenter when compared with the year prior to the opening. The average increase in the number of permits was 32.7 per community. Slight declines occurred in Gilroy (from 516 to 508), Palm Desert (from 1446 to 1388), and Palm Springs (from 881 to 803). However, these were offset in those communities by sizable gains in permits two years following the opening of the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

For example, when the Gilroy Supercenter went in, permit dropped from 516 to 508 but rose to 517 the second year out. Palm Springs didn't gain what it lost, however. Permits the year before the Supercenter in Palm Springs numbered at 881. It dropped to 803 the following year, and rose to 840 in the second year.