Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wal-Mart planning five supercenters in Chicago

Of course a big story from the summer was the debate over Chicago's big-box "living wage" ordinance. The bill passed Chicago's city council, only to be vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley, who viewed it, correctly in my opinion, as an anti-jobs ordinance.

The stores will be built in city wards whose alderman voted against the living wage ordinance, although one alderman, only voted not to override Daley's veto.

From Crain's Chicago Business:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering up an election-time goodie to Mayor Richard M. Daley and his City Council allies: five Supercenter stores that would go into wards whose aldermen helped the mayor block a proposed minimum wage for big-box retailers like Wal-Mart.

Crain’s has learned that Wal-Mart has presented the city with a list of five potential store sites in heavily African-American South Side neighborhoods. While a final decision has not yet been made, the retailer is firm enough on them that it is expected to seek formal city zoning and other approvals before the end of the year, a person close to the matter says.

That means the prospect of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in construction work would be on the table at the same time the aldermen, and presumably Mayor Daley, will be making their case to voters in advance of the February city elections.

The construction work would be done, of course, by union contractors, something Wake Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch won't be reporting.

The areas where those stores will be built have little in the way of a viable retail presence. So as I've reported previously, Wal-Mart moving into these communities won't be driving out scores of other merchants, as Wal-Mart opponents claim the retail giant does.

Related post: Lines of people greet first Chicago Wal-Mart

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