Wal-Mart Addresses Image Problems

April 21, 2006 - 06:45

In a speech given recently at the Newspaper Association of America's annual convention, Wal-Mart Stores CEO Lee Scott announced the new, nationwide "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zones" initiative.

Scott also announced that over the next two years Wal-Mart will build more than 50 stores in neighborhoods with high crime or unemployment rates, on sites that are environmentally contaminated, or in vacant buildings or malls in need of revitalization. These new stores are expected to create between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs, many of which will be in minority communities and generate more than $100 million in state and local tax revenue for these communities.

Before his speech, Scott visited the construction site of a new Wal-Mart store on the west side of Chicago and announced that this store will anchor the first "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zone."

Each of the 10 "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zones" will be anchored by a store and engage a host of local businesses and organizations with which the company will work to increase job creation and economic opportunity in surrounding neighborhoods. The locations of the remaining nine zones will be announced in the coming months.

The "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zone" initiative is designed to create more opportunities for small businesses to capitalize on the benefits of having a Wal-Mart store in the community; benefits may include increased customer flow and rising incomes.

Wal-Mart will work with store managers to identify up to five local businesses per quarter as "Small Business Spotlights." The company will feature these small businesses in local newspaper advertising and will also offer to produce free radio ads and broadcast them on its in-store radio network.

Wal-Mart will establish a Wal-Mart Business Development Team that will hold seminars for small businesses on best practices for how to thrive with a Wal-Mart in their community. The company will also produce an annual "Wal-Mart Trends Report" that it will share exclusively with the small-business community.

Wal-Mart will donate a total of $500,000 from the Wal-Mart Foundation to local chambers of commerce. The company will work with these chambers to create and identity effective programs for this funding, according to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will also hold "Working with Wal-Mart" sessions, which help local minority- and women-owned businesses learn how to do business with Wal-Mart.

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