Residents want to know why the businesses are leaving when they were led to believe that creating a new city would bring economic development and prosperity.
Cityhood creators said give them power and they would protect us.
Now residents want to know who is minding the stores?
Who is the wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings?
Retailers are leaving our community, and dollar discount stores like Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Roses, and fast food and convenience stores. are moving in all over the place.
Our politicians and elected officials are behind the eight-ball, and a day late and a dollar short. Now, they are running around holding town hall meetings with no answers.
The cityhood movement was disguised as a local grassroots movement for self-determination. However, it has been nothing of the kind.
Cityhood is the colonization of unincorporated areas, and the privatization of the services that will lead to the exploitation of the workers. Many of the businesses in our community, we do not even own.
The lesson we should learn is that we have to create our own stores in our community, then we wouldn’t have to be reactionary to the outside performance measures that we cannot see or control.
It is strange to see how the community has reacted differently to the store closing of a Sam’s Club, but did not react the same way when Sears, Best Buy, Phoebe’s and Kohl’s gave advance notice.
South DeKalb residents are frustrated with the quality of businesses and type of jobs being created in our communities. The foundation of capitalism and economic development is related to who controls the land, the resources, finance, manufacturing and building, controls the distribution, receives the training, jobs, and disposable income.
Many of the jobs in our community are service-related and retail. There is very little manufacturing or engineering.
The businesses in our community should be businesses in which we have equity and ownership – not those that transfer wealth out of our community and make us sick.
We need businesses that produce or add value, and less of those that sell low-quality products.
There are some who believe that government services should be privatized to cut costs and increase efficiency for competition, but these same people believe that public money should be used for funding mega projects.
When the project costs are expensive they believe that the public should help finance projects like nuclear plants, stadiums, hospitals, and train stations. The special interests and lobbyists want to get their hands on the bonds and sales tax revenues to fund their pet projects at the expense of the taxpayers.
Just recently, the city of Stonecrest signed a $16 million contract for 68 months with Colorado-based CH2M to manage and hire employees to run the city of Stonecrest.
We are being led to believe that more government will bring us economic development and growth. But the goal is to privatize government services and to use contract workers to reduce the power of workers and to eliminate unions.
There is a trend to create temporary contractor jobs without benefits so the worker is not an employee of the government.
In this transformation, there will be fewer government workers hired, while technology will be used to replace workers and reduce costs. Property taxes will increase as profits go to for-profit corporations. In this transformation, as the government grows and developers consume the land, many homeowners will no longer be able to afford their homes, and gentrification will consume those who are unable to afford the property taxes and other fees.
We should not want to bring businesses into our communities that do not pay taxes in exchange for low-wage jobs.
Residents should look at the existing cities, such as Lithonia, Stone Mountain, Pine Lake, East Point, College Park, Riverdale, Avondale, Union City, Doraville, Chamblee, Clarkston, including Atlanta on the Southside, and tell me what significant economic development has occurred within these cities.
Ninety percent of the development, including construction of all the malls, in DeKalb County occurred without being in a city. The truth of the matter is that economic development is not related to whether or not there is a city. It has to do with many of other factors, such land, resources, labor, capital, location, education, climate, and demographic diversity.
Over 95 percent of the taxable property in unincorporated DeKalb is residential, which means that homeowners will pay heavily to fund local projects. Dollar stores will not be able to fund major projects.
What does a Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Department, Planning Department, Business Alliance, Improvement District do when we still have these kinds of problems in our community and they apparently do not know what’s happening and have no solution?
We should take the blame because we are not doing enough to stop it.
Ed Williams is chairman of Concerned Citizens For Effective Government. He lives in Lithonia.