Gee, I Wonder Why US Business Investment Is Sluggish?

From Jon Gabriel:

Trader Joe’s wanted to build a new store in Portland, Oregon. Instead of heading to a tony neighborhood downtown or towards the suburbs, the popular West Coast grocer chose a struggling area of Northeast Portland.

The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.

The fact that most members of the Portland African-American Leadership Forum didn’t live in the neighborhood was beside the point. “This is a people’s movement for African-Americans and other communities, for self-determination,” member Avel Gordly said in a press conference. Even the NAACP piled on, railing against the project as a “case study in gentrification.” (The area is about 25 percent African-American.)

After a few months of racially tinged accusations and angry demands, Trader Joe’s decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. “We run neighborhood stores and our approach is simple,” a corporate statement said. “If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe's, we understand, and we won't open the store in question.”

Hours after Trader Joe’s pulled out, PAALF leaders arrived at a previously scheduled press conference trying to process what just happened. The group re-issued demands that the now-cancelled development include affordable housing, mandated jobs based on race, and a small-business slush fund. Instead, the only demand being met is two fallow acres and a lot of anger from the people who actually live nearby.


  1. Broccoli:

    At least as far as I know community organizers haven't gained legal standing to represent people who have no idea they exist and do no support their causes.
    One of the biggest job killers is the law that grants environmental groups, a special carve-out just for environmental groups, legal standing to represent affected parties without their consent. Which leads to the absurdity of green groups legally opposing, on behalf of residents, development that the residents it affects completely support.

  2. JLC:

    Community organizer = shakedown artist.
    Every time the words go together, look around and see what the community organizer wants to shake the developer down for. This is the scheme that propelled Jesse Jackson to fame.

  3. Elam Bend:

    That's what I was thinking. I live in Chi and work in real estate. My experience here is the opposition group is often looking for some 'grant' to a favored non-profit the ameliorate the pain of a vacant lot being developed, coupled with a vague, unenforceable commitment from the company to hire from the neighborhood.

  4. jon:

    This blog post could have been aptly titled "Trader Joe's Goes Galt."

  5. Scott:

    very much in the same way developers often have to pay off the mob before starting work.

  6. Elam Bend:

    I have no experience with such things, but I know a guy who wanted trees in front of his building, which required city approval. He went to his Alderman who pulled out a ledger book and asked "Have you guys given us a donation?". The implied cost was $1,000. A friend then directed him to a particular Italian restaurant to ask for a particular fellow. That fellow said he'd charge $500; "I call the same guys." The guy passed on getting trees.

  7. MNHawk:

    I wonder why there's still any investment at all. You have your California story, my company has a very similar one, now costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, all over a $10 per hour employee. Trader Joes in Oregon, Boeing in South Carolina, probably thousands of instances like this we've never heard of.

    There is just no reason to invest in America, anymore, short of convincing morons to throw tax money at your venture.

  8. rst1317:

    I'm kind of impressed in a weird way. Usually these businesses get the Heisman from a few very vocal local folks. Traders Joe's got that in MPSLtown awhile aga

  9. irandom419:

    So melanin leaders want more food deserts?

  10. c_andrew:

    I have to say, I like the fact that Trader Joe's did the Jiu Jitsu thing with the race hustlers. Would that more corporate targets would just say the same thing to the "Justice Brothers" wannabes.

  11. Craig L:

    "This is the scheme that propelled Jesse Jackson to fame."

    And fortune.

  12. Jim Stoner:

    Al Capone was a community organizer too!