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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has unveiled a two-year plan to create 1,200 jobs and improve shopper access to fresh, affordable groceries in Washington, D.C. Initial store sites are located in the District’s Wards 4, 5, 6 and 7.
The new plan, which also will back workforce development initiatives and spur local economic development, includes such additional components as opening multiple stores across the area in a variety of sizes and formats; generating an estimated $10 million in tax revenue for the District; providing a competitive wage equal to or better than those offered by competitors, including unionized grocers; and developing charitable partnerships, especially in the areas of hunger and workforce development
“D.C. residents want more convenient access to quality jobs and affordable groceries,” noted Walmart U.S. SVP Henry Jordan. “We want to be part of the solution.”
The new stores, all slated to open in late 2012, will carry a full grocery selection, including fresh produce, a bakery, a delicatessen and organic foods, in addition to a full-service pharmacy and a broad selection of general merchandise. Each store will be between 80,000 and 120,000 square feet.
Jordan said the mega-retailer is looking at other small, medium and large sites across the entire area, including underserved areas east of the Anacostia River.
According to a new poll conducted by Lester & Associates and commissioned by Walmart, 73 percent of D.C. residents say they want Walmart to come to D.C. and open one or more stores. Walmart says it already employs more than 600 residents, and that in 2009, Washingtonians spent more than $41 million at its stores outside the District.
In response to the poll results, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company has ramped up its expansion efforts in the region and has created a community website at www.walmartwashingtondc.com to educate customers on how best to advocate for the company.
“D.C. residents are going to great lengths to shop and work at Walmart,” said Jordan. “They clearly want access to the jobs and savings our stores provide. As we accelerate efforts to meet customer demand, we will continue to listen to elected officials, stakeholders, customers, business associations and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions as we work together towards solutions for D.C.”
Walmart intends to open local hiring centers for such positions as pharmacists, human resource managers, customer service associates, cashiers and sales associates, at an average hourly wage of $12.49 an hour.
“As our city charts a course under new leadership, we have a responsibility to address challenges that have long challenged the District like unemployment and food deserts,” said Barbara Lang, president, DC Chamber of Commerce. “Walmart’s willingness to invest in D.C. has the potential to lift up underserved areas of our city and level the playing field for all Washingtonians.”
Walmart operates more than 8,400 retail units under 55 banners in 15 countries.