By AARON WALKER
The town hall regarding small business and George Chandler’s letter (link) to the editor have been very eye-opening. The town hall was a disaster.
Landlords were given 2+ hours of the 3 hour time frame. They utilized that not to talk about how to catalyze small business growth, but to lobby against the proposed downtown overlay.
The agenda should not have been allowed to be de-railed into a lobbying effort, and the fact that the small business owners got the scraps when it came to time is appalling and should be very embarrassing to the County Council.
A local landlord confirmed that CB Fox and Reel Deel was purchased with the hopes of obtaining a LANL contract, which would further serve to turn our downtown in to office space. With landlords competing to get LANL contracts, how is a small business ever going to thrive here?
How is a small business owner ever going to be able to purchase their own property? They won’t, plain and simple. This type of mentality is going to continue to choke the life out of our small businesses.
Landlords have power over their tenants. The small business owners can be retaliated against if they say anything that reflects poorly on the landlord. This is the power dynamic, and the county needs to understand that and give more thought to why the landlords are more vocal. They are in a position of power and will wield that to get their way.
A few small business owners did confirm that they felt rent was too high. No major surprise there. Talking to the people that actually have a hand in the finances of running a retail business show that rents are too high.
The landlords still don’t want you to believe that is the case. The business owners also pointed out that they are competing with national chains, further choking their ability to survive. This is in direct contradiction to Mr. Chandler’s comments as well as the landlords comments at the town hall (landlord lobbying meeting). LANL clearly isn’t subsidizing anyone’s rent, or else it would be affordable and reasonable.
So the question that remains is this: Why are we listening to the landlords and their lobbying crew? It’s time to actually listen to the small business owners and put way more stock in what they have to say. If we want a more vibrant small business economy, why not listen to the people that know how to run a business?
Mr. Chandler and the landlords want you to believe that the problem is with the way businesses are run, population, or some other red herring. That’s not the case at all and is merely a deflection tactic. I strongly urge everyone to go back and listen to what the business owners had to say about the business economy. It is very poignant, and we need to give these business owners a larger forum. They are the ones that are going to bring downtown to life, not the landlords that own aging buildings that are out of code and charge too much for them.