Proposed Wal-Mart in Kerman

September 4, 2009 8:37:38 AM PDT
Kerman is a town of less than 15,000 people. There's concern the proposed store at more than 150,000 square feet would suck up all the business, for miles around.Some Kerman residents can't wait for this field on the edge of town to be the home of a new Wal-Mart Super Center.

Sonia Ledesma, Kerman Resident said: "Yeah, I like it. Because usually we have to drive all the way to Fresno to drive to go to Wal-Mart just for diapers. And I think it's a great idea for them to build a Wal-Mart here in Kerman."

Joanne Stilson, Kerman Resident said: "Well I think it's great. We've got every drive in and things here, I think it's good. I like Wal-Mart."

Wal-Mart is popular at city hall too.

Ron Manfredi, Kerman City Manager said: "So you're talking about maybe a couple hundred full time jobs, a hundred part time jobs, you're talking about maybe a half a million dollars in sales tax, we don't even generate a full million dollars in sales tax now."

But some business owners have a different take.

Suzanne Lanfranco, Store owner said: "Our town is built on family, and Wal-Mart is not part of our family."

Suzanne Lanfranco's family owns a hardware store, a bar and a big chunk of downtown real-estate. She's doesn't believe Wal-Mart will deliver the boost the city expects.

Suzanne Lanfranco said: "They say they are going to come up with 300 jobs and I've done all the math, by the time we all close, they'll net 25. So, how do we come out winners?"

Wal-Mart's possible arrival is raising concerns at Valley Food Super Center, a family business that's been in Kerman for more than 50 years.

Gary Yep, Valley foods said: "I believe the downtown area will suffer. I think a lot of the businesses will lose between 20 and 40 percent of their retail sales."

Gary yep said he's not afraid of competing with Wal-Mart, but he and others are concerned the city will be giving away too many incentives to get the store to stay, incentives that should go to local businesses.

An environmental impact study is underway, and it could take about nine months to complete.

Opponents can challenge the findings, and as we've seen in Clovis, the process can drag on for years.

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