June 17, 2013

A secondary headline to The Post’s June 11 editorial “Outlawing business” stated, “Bad legislation by the D.C. Council threatens to run retailers out of town.” In fact, good living-wage legislation promises to help keep residents in town, assuring that those businesses can continue to profit by operating in the District.

The Large Retailer Accountability Act, to be considered by the D.C. Council today, would require companies that generate gross revenue of at least $1 billion to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour. This is a matter of basic fairness to the people of the nation’s capital. Over the past 15 years, the D.C. economy has strengthened considerably. A thousand residents move in each month. We no longer beg business to come to the District through large tax abatements and other enticements. Businesses are attracted by what we have to offer.

In recent years, Target, Home Depot and Costco have moved in because the District offers a larger, more concentrated consumer base with disposable income than can be found in suburban marketplaces. Many businesses see their best opportunity for growth in urban markets. In January, a representative of the real-estate firm James Lang LaSalle observed, “It would not be at all unusual for an urban location to average two to three times the sales of a traditional suburban location.”

I agree. This is our message to large retailers: Come generate your sales and make a profit in the District, but if you gross $1 billion or more you must share a small portion of that prosperity and pay a living wage of $12.50 per hour.

Vincent B. Orange, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, is an at-large member of the D.C. Council.