Target vs. Citizens
By Andrew Richter
This is the type of thing that happens when a business gets in bed with government….
Target Corp. has agreed to begin talks with a community group asking the company to do more for those who live near its north campus in Brooklyn Park.
Is that really the obligation of a company?
Members of the Northwest Community Collaborative say Target hasn’t lived up to the promises it made when the city agreed to give it millions of dollars in tax breaks on new construction. The collaborative is a coalition of organizations that have come together to “seek the interests of the underrepresented and minority communities as they relate to the Target Corporation expansion in Brooklyn Park.”
An agreement this city should have never made.
According to the city, Target has met all its obligations under the agreement, first approved in 2006 and revised in 2011. Nevertheless, Target agreed to enter a dialogue with the collaborative after three Brooklyn Park residents traveled to the company’s June shareholders meeting in Denver.
“Target’s leaders … including the CEO, made a commitment to ongoing conversations with us,” said Joy Marsh Stephens, one of the three who went to Denver. Stephens is on the board of the nonprofit ISAIAH, a member organization in the Northwest Community Collaborative. Since the June meeting, Stephens said, Target has been in contact with the organization.
Target spokesperson Molly Snyder confirmed the company’s commitment to a dialogue with the collaborative. “At Target’s annual shareholder meeting, Target leaders expressed this commitment as well as our willingness to listen to, and engage with, members of the Brooklyn Park community,” Snyder said in an email. “Since that time, we have had continued conversations with them as we seek to understand their questions and continue to build on our strong commitment to the Brooklyn Park community.”
Snyder also said Target “seeks to be a strong, contributing member in every community in which we do business.”
But the Northwest Community Collaborative isn’t satisfied with Target’s performance. “I still believe that Target needs to make good on the promise to create new jobs here in Brooklyn Park,” Stephens said. “There are qualified residents in the community who not only need jobs, but value the opportunity to work at a company like Target right in their own backyard.”
That’s a common refrain from the group. At a Valentine’s Day press conference earlier this year, collaborative representatives said Target had gotten a “sweetheart deal,” and complained that the jobs Target created in Brooklyn Park were transferred from Minneapolis. “Job creation is different than job transfer,” said Erasmus Tiampa Williams, a Brooklyn Park resident and member of the collaborative.
But for the purposes of Target’s legal agreement with the city, they are the same. The new jobs need only be new to Brooklyn Park to qualify – it doesn’t matter if they were transferred from another city.
Gee….nice Brooklyn Park…..
The collaborative says Target can do better, and the group is using the slogan, “We expect more.” “We want to make sure that (Target views itself) as a long-term partner facing long-term issues … like how do we wok together to create a healthy community,” Stephens said.
Target is a business not a community organizer!
The collaborative is doing its best to get the community involved in the conversation. On Feb. 26 it hosted a “listening session” at North View Junior High to gather public input about the city’s priorities, the agreement with Target and future agreements with large companies. Stephens said the group had also been unsuccessfully seeking meetings with Target representatives to discuss the needs of the city and how Target could help the community.
The needs of a city aren’t Target’s responsibility. Why don’t you instead turn your anger towards the fools in government that made this “sweetheart deal?” Where’s the anger at them?
“Our goal was to get Target to sit down with us and have a conversation so that we didn’t have to go to Denver,” Stephens said. “Denver was more of an escalated response … in order to capture Target’s attention. …The fact that we showed up there, I believe, is what really pushed the needle forward.” The meetings with Target are a step in the right direction, Stephens said, but she hopes to see concrete commitments to action soon.
The Northwest Community Collaborative is holding another public meeting 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church, 5929 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Center.
Sorry for the short notice on the meeting…..
Folks, this is the kind of thing that happens when a corporation gets in bed with government. They get a great deal and we get left holding the bag…..but why is nobody mad at government?