Letter: RPB Should Stand Up For Small Business

Small businesses are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies. Thriving small businesses are the foundation of thriving communities, particularly communities the size of our Village of Royal Palm Beach. They bring distinct services and individual customer care that directly enhance the character of our community and keep a sense of place. The owners of local businesses share a commitment to our community, where they live and raise their families.

It is important to remember that when consumers patronize local, small businesses, they are essentially giving money back to their local community. A thriving local business will generate high levels of revenue, which generates higher local taxes. Small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. For five or six jobs gained by a RaceTrac station, dozens more will be lost when 10 to 12 family stations are forced to close.

The RaceTrac gas station is the most egregious example of big business in the wrong place threatening the very fiber of our small businesses here in the village. For those residents here who may say that this location at Royal Palm Beach Blvd. and Southern Blvd. does not affect them, consider what happens as our small businesses, particularly those gas stations and convenience stores, begin to close their doors. When big business comes in and overcompetes, crushing all the small business, the smaller buildings become vacant and dark, the lots develop potholes and the corners near your home that you pass by each day become bleak. If those small businesses are gas stations, they leave behind the environmental challenges of large, underground gas storage tanks. This is the future of Royal Palm Beach if projects too large for our community take hold, just as the 6,000-square-foot RaceTrac will do to the full village over time.

Our situation is not unique in Royal Palm Beach. This same issue was debated between the Palm Beach County Commission and residents of Hypoluxo in February 2012, with the commission voting unanimously to support the wishes of the residents to deny that RaceTrac petition. Their residents argued the very same position that our residents have offered. It is up to our mayor and council to listen carefully and make the same wise decision for our village. Standing for small business and rejecting RaceTrac is standing for the future of Royal Palm Beach.

Martha Webster, Royal Palm Beach