Walmart (NYSE: WMT) will add dozens of stores in the Chicago areas and about 12,000 jobs over the next five years. The move has the blessing of the city. “Our city is facing a number of challenges but most of all, we need good jobs,” said Alderman Anthony A. Beale of the 9th Ward.
Walmart and its foundation will also put $20 million into the city to cover the cost of meals for people who cannot afford them. Walmart’s plan, called the “Chicago Community Investment Partnership” , should create $500 million in new sales taxes and property taxes.
Walmart has begun to find a side door into municipalities in which unions and smaller competing retailers have fought a series of hard and often successful battles to keep the world’s largest store chain out.
Unions have failed to gain a foothold in Walmart for years. They argue that Walmart pays its “associates” too little and gives them inadequate benefits. The company argues that it employs more than one million Americans who might not otherwise have jobs and provides better-than-standard benefits.
Local retailers across the country have lobbied city and country officials to keep Walmart superstores out of their regions. Walmart’s diverse and inexpensive inventory probably does pressure the profit margins of local stores so local authorities often side with them.
It appears that Walmart has discovered a clever way around its opponents by offering Chicago a “package” that is economically and politically popular. New jobs come into the economy married to higher tax receipts. Charitable gifts aid the poor.
The genius of Walmart’s new approach is that it will be politically popular to a large extent because the plans and goals are genuine and the company can deliver on them easily because of its size, financial power, and avaricious ambition.
Douglas A. McIntyre