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    Wal-Mart Penetrates Washington's Capital Beltway

    LANDOVER HILLS, Md. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday opened its first store inside the Capital Beltway in Landover Hills, Md. -- a market that the retailer named one of its 10 "Jobs and Opportunity Zones" across the country.

    LANDOVER HILLS, Md. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday opened its first store inside the Capital Beltway in Landover Hills, Md. -- a market that the retailer named one of its 10 "Jobs and Opportunity Zones" across the country.

    The new store, a conventional discount store but with expanded food offerings, is in the Capital Plaza shopping center just a few miles from Washington, D.C. In keeping with the opportunity zones program, the store will forge partnerships with local businesses and organizations to generate economic opportunity in Prince George's County, Wal-Mart said.

    "This store is an example of what working families need and Wal-Mart provides -- good jobs and affordable, quality merchandise that helps everyone live better," said Wal-Mart president and c.e.o., USA, Eduardo Castro-Wright, in a statement.

    The 144,300 square-foot store will feature products that meet the specific needs of the community, Wal-Mart said, including expanded selections of Hispanic foods, a larger than usual high-tech electronics department with expanded selections in Gospel, Latino and R&B music, and a sports department highlighting games and equipment popular in the area.

    There are two other Wal-Mart stores in Prince George's County -- one in Bowie and another in Clinton. The new Landover Hills store will collaborate with Port Towns Elementary School, just as the Bowie store has worked with Kenilworth Elementary, and the Clinton store has adopted Stephen Decatur Middle School.

    Elements of the new store showcase Wal-Mart's sustainability strategy, including concrete floors made with recycled fly ash content, and skylights in the roof to enable daylight harvesting. The store also will use light emitting diode (LED) lighting in its jewelry and freezer cases, and has a compact fluorescent light bulb display case to educate customers on the environmental and economic benefits of using high-efficiency bulbs.

    In other news, Wal-Mart Stores said it paid tribute to its U.S. associates yesterday during Associate Celebration Day, awarding more than $529.8 million in bonuses to 813,759 Wal-Mart store and Sam's Club hourly associates in the U.S. The company also announced several new initiatives to recognize performance and service.

    Among the new initiatives unveiled were a Servant Leadership bonus to recognize the more than 13,400 store and club associates who have been with the company for 20 years or more, and a Customer Champion award program to reward associates who provide outstanding customer service.

    "There is no better time than Associate Celebration Day to demonstrate just how much we value every member of the Wal-Mart family," said Susan Chambers, e.v.p. for Wal-Mart's People Division. "The commitment and dedication of our associates is one of the key reasons more than 176 million customers choose to visit our stores each week."

    All Wal-Mart hourly full-time and part-time store associates are eligible for annual "My$hare" bonuses, which are allocated based on store performance. The company also announced that My$hare bonuses would be distributed quarterly rather than annually, to reward performance on a more frequent basis.

    The Servant Leadership bonus, an idea generated by hourly associates, recognizes long-term hourly associates and assistant managers each year with an extra week of pay for those associates with 20 or more years of service. The Customer Champion award program, scheduled to launch in stores mid summer, is a cash program to reward associates who go above and beyond in providing excellent customer service.

    The new initiatives are part of a larger effort introduced last year known as "Associates Out in Front." The program aims to make Wal-Mart a better place to work by fostering communication with associates and focusing on new ways to reward performance and service.

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