Monday, June 02, 2008

Salt Lake City Anti-Small Business?

The Salt Lake City, Utah Image via WikipediaA recent comment about the pedicabs got those wheels turning again. The question is, despite the existing of a couple of organizations to promote local business including Vest Pocket and Buy Local First Utah, is Salt Lake City anti-small business?

Lets take a look at the Smith's at 900 East and 2100 South in Sugarhouse. As regular readers of this blog know, I often hold this as example of giving into the blackmail of a big business and not sticking to plans and the neighborhood. The question is, if that had been a small grocery store would have Salt Lake City given in or would they have stood their ground? If they would have stood their ground that means that they would have discriminated against the smaller business.

We also have the example of Wal-Mart at 300 West and 1300 South which in is a community with a high percentage of non-car owners. The store is designed for people to drive in and out of and pedestrians (especially those coming from TRAX) have to risk their lives to reach the store as the driveways are high speed routes for drivers and pedestrians have to use them to reach the store.

Another example of this is the food carts that have populated the downtown area. It seems like some bigger businesses (for example the Taco Time at 8th south and State) don't like the competition from the smaller carts and have been pushing for regulations against them including ones that have recently passed.

Some even try to demonize they carts by giving names link with food created diseases. I find this kind of ironic considering I have never had a problem eating food from one of the these carts but have gotten sick after eating from major restaurant chains.

Now instead of trying to regulate these carts out of business, how about supporting the small entrepreneurs and encourage them so long as they pass health regulations? I noticed in Denver the food carts were nicely integrated into the 16th Street Transit Mall.

If anything Salt Lake City should be promoting small business more. It is ironic that cities such as Salt Lake, Sandy and others work so hard to attract big box retailers and other chain stores when it reality they end up cost more than they bring in. According to studies done the cost of police, fire and other city services cost more than what sales tax dollars come in. That doesn't even take into consideration all the hidden cost of big box retailers such as infrastructure cost such as the 80 million that now has to be spent in Springville since people don't notice those kind of things.

The ultimate irony is the fact that small business contribute more to the local economy, actually pay higher wages on average, create more sales tax dollars per square foot of space, do not increase cost of city services, are generally safer, and fit better into the fabric of the community.

Salt Lake City should working harder to help small businesses and build a comprehensive plan that includes transportation, planning and the promotion of small business.

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