A new, enormous operation comes into a community, bringing its own supply chain and contractors. Existing businesses fear their prices will be undercut in fierce competition with the larger, more-efficient interloper.
We could be describing the pending opening of the new Wal-mart in Grovetown. Small retailers in the nearby city rightly worry that the closer their business is to a Wal-mart, the further they are from a comfortable profit margin.
The idea of Wal-mart coming to town and running mom-and-pop stores out of business is old news, though. The new fear in town goes by the name of Crown Communities.
Crown is a development company from near Atlanta. It is big and ruthlessly efficient, constructing decent-quality homes faster and cheaper than most local builders. They do so by using their own suppliers and their own crews, which also puts less money in the local economy.
Crown has been building homes near Fort Gordon for quite some time, and recently started a Columbia County development in Evans.
That's when the panic started. At a time when the housing market already is depressed, Crown's arrival is frightening news for local builders - some of whom feel like they're being kicked by a bully while they're down.
A few have even resorted to scare tactics of their own, such as the anonymous Realtor who sent a letter to county offices charging rampant lawbreaking by Crown and accusing county, state and federal officials of looking the other way.
Particularly disingenuous is the writers' accusation that Crown uses illegal alien workers - a charge that rings hollow when you consider all the framing, masonry and landscaping crews of questionable legal status who have worked in the county for years, with barely a peep from builders now suddenly voicing concern about immigration.
What this boils down to is that, until recently, Columbia County's housing market hadn't yet attracted the Wal-marts of the development business. Local builders were able to divvy up the lucrative market among themselves, flying under the radar of those big competitors.
Those happy days ended when Crown came to town,but a hysterical reaction to such tough competition isn't going to make it just go away.
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