While some small business owners in Midtown and Wynwood believe a Walmart would be bad for the neighborhood, one of the main authorities in the Puerto Rican business community — which settled in the area long before it became trendy — thinks exactly the opposite.
“I do shop at Walmart from time to time, and I think it’s going to be an economic booster for the community,” said Luis de Rosa, president of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida, which is located just east of the Shops at Midtown, on 36th Street. “It’s going to create a lot more jobs, hundreds of jobs.”
The Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce works to promote job creation and economic development in the area through county-issued grants. De Rosa argues that Walmart and businesses in Midtown are targeted toward completely different customers. As a result, the big box store won’t be snatching away clients with its low prices.
“The restaurants and other shops have a solid, regular clientele,” de Rosa said. “Plus, the two of them are not for the same people. The people that go to Walmart are not the same people that go to the businesses in Midtown. Walmart is for the working class people that live paycheck to paycheck.”
He thinks Walmart wil be more of a threat for Publix, which has a location at 4870 Biscayne Blvd. and will open another soon on 1777 Biscayne Blvd., than it will be for small businesses in the area.
“We’ll see what the numbers say once Walmart is here, but I don’t think it’s going to affect them,” de Rosa said. “Publix on the other hand, will have to worry and lower its prices.”
— “Midtown Walmart would force art fairs out” (Feb. 6, 2012)
— “Plans for Midtown Walmart emerge with zoning request” (Feb. 2, 2012)
— “Op-ed: The Midtown Walmart will hurt job growth, local businesses” (Jan. 30, 2012)
This post was produced in partnership with Open Media Miami.