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.