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Voice: ‘Big box' petition a big deal for our future

March 16, 2001

I was asked to sign a petition near the front entrance of the Calexico Wal-Mart. I gladly did so. This petition is an important one for Imperial Valley residents, as long as the growth of this Valley is important.

The petition is being circulated to help put on the ballot a measure to allow "big box" stores to come into our area. These stores bring jobs and money, not only in hiring people but those needed for maintenance companies like air-conditioning repairmen, plumbers, construction workers and landscape specialists.

The more employed people in our area, the more other services and establishments will be in demand, such as restaurants and entertainment. Community leaders have urged Valley residents to "shop the Valley first." Well, let us provide them with stores filled with goods, not vacant shops accumulating dust and unpaid rent.

Our Valley needs to expand to attract more industry and business. How are we to do that when a handful of local business people are passing ordinances to keep prosperous companies out of our area? What good are state-funded job-training programs when we have no jobs locally to place these trained people in?

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Our Valley is in an ideal location for such expansion. We can walk into Mexico and come back in less than a day. We have the San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus that offers advanced degrees in areas that our region needs most. We have vast acres of unused land for factories and schools.

It needs to become known throughout other areas that we have what it takes to warrant million-dollar companies to set up shop in our towns.

Now these local Calexico business people say "big box" stores will hurt them. What about the people who work for them? I doubt many get paid above $8 an hour, much less have medical insurance. These "big box" stores usually offer their employees benefits that smaller businesses cannot provide.

I am not picking on small businesses. I am a small business owner myself. However, I see the need for more jobs in the Valley. I cannot employ the whole town, nor do I have the ambition to do so. The whole town cannot be employed by small businesses alone. My business cannot grow if people do not have the money to request my services.

Another benefit of having more competition: customer service. Many employees of our local businesses have no clue what it means to serve a customer. If you are not greeted with courtesy, then you are made to wait a long time to be helped. "Big box" stores train their employees to make a sale using polite smiles and useful information about their products.

So "big box" means more jobs, more revenue generated by sales taxes, more need for other service providers, possibly more funding from the state for training for the expected increase in industry … whew! Does that sound bad to you?

Calexico residents need to voice their opinion on the "big box" matter. Sign this petition. Tell your friends and neighbors about it. Unless you want to see your children leave this Valley because they cannot find jobs here, you owe it to them to get the "big box" measure on the ballot.

GUADALUPE LOPEZ

Calexico

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