Ball State economist’s Wal-Mart book controversial

A book about Wal-Mart Stores Inc. authored by Michael Hicks, the new director at Ball State University’s Bureau of Business Research, hasn’t always been received well by people who don’t like the retail giant, Hicks told The Star Press of Muncie.

Hicks, who writes a weekly column that appears in IBJ and other newspapers around the state, said his research for The Local Economic Impact of Wal-Mart showed that Wal-Mart might actually increase the presence of small businesses. Counties with Wal-Marts have more jobs and a few more small businesses that can be attributed to the presence of the sprawling stores than counties that have no Wal-Mart.

Hicks, most recently a faculty member at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, suspects that at least part of the reason is Wal-Mart’s propensity to offer goods at low prices, which in turn leaves more money in consumer pockets to be spend on other things.

Critics who complain that Wal-Mart drives small businesses away seldom agree with his findings, he told the newspaper.

Hicks has found downsides to Wal-Mart. Among them is, Wal-Mart has caused Medicaid spending to rise in some states.

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