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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has officially unveiled its plans to work with the city of Chicago to build several dozen stores that will create about 12,000 jobs over the next five years.
Part of a long-term initiative dubbed the Chicago Community Investment Partnership, the new plan aims to eliminate food deserts and stimulate local economic development. Walmart wants to open several dozen stores of varying size and format, create some 10,000 associate positions and 2,000 unionized construction jobs, generate more than $500 million in sales and property taxes, pay competitive wages at all levels, and develop charitable partnerships in Chicago worth $20 million that work to abate hunger and curb youth violence.
Previous attempts by Walmart to expand in Chicago have been thwarted by city and union officials who argue the retailer does not pay a “living wage.” According to recent market wage assessments in Chicago, Walmart’s starting wage is fully competitive with most union and non-union retailers in several key categories such as cashier and stock associate, the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer said.
“We want to deliver long-term solutions that benefit Chicago and its residents,” said Hank Mullany, EVP and president at Walmart North, Walmart U.S. “While our goals are dependent on our ability to site and build stores in a timely fashion, we remain confident that we can make a real difference to Chicagoans in need of a job and those who seek more convenient access to fresh, affordable food, especially those living in the city’s underserved communities.”
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation plan to commit $20 million over the next five years, including an annual donation of 1.2 million meals to Chicago residents and 200,000 meals for children this summer.
“Over the past several years, we’ve challenged ourselves to look for ways to make a long-lasting impact in neighborhoods across Chicago by funding programs that address critical needs, like hunger, education and job training,” said Mullany. “We look forward to sustaining those partnerships in the years to come and forging new relationships along the way.”
Walmart operates more than 8,400 retail units under 55 banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2010 sales of $405 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide.