Monday, August 28, 2006

Chicago suburbs say "Wal-Mart, yes"

The continued short-sightedness of Chicago's alderman in regards to Wal-Mart becomes more striking when considering that Chicago's suburbs, some of them such as Niles that directly border the City, are welcoming Wal-Mart with open arms.

From this morning's Chicago Sun-Times:

While Chicago politicians debate the big-box ordinance, suburban officials say they are thrilled to collect Wal-Mart Stores' hefty tax dollars, and they express no qualms about the wages Wal-Mart pays.

Indeed, suburban leaders say Wal-Mart has helped invigorate once-moribund shopping centers because other retailers are eager to open near a Wal-Mart. Two shuttered Montgomery Ward department stores now house thriving big-box retailers as a result of Wal-Mart's entry into north suburban Niles and south suburban Lansing, officials said.

The Austin community on Chicago's West Side is counting on a new Wal-Mart store to help boost its fortunes, too. Wal-Mart has already hired more than 400 of the 500 employees who will work at the store at 4650 W. North Ave., site of a long-abandoned manufacturing plant. The store is scheduled to open Sept. 19.

But Wal-Mart has put off plans to build 20 more stores, most of them SuperCenters that sell groceries, inside Chicago's city limits in the next 10 years until the big-box ordinance's fate is decided.

The under-construction Niles Wal-Mart, pictured, that border suburb's second, is two miles from Chicago's city limits. It opens on October 18, I plan to be there for the grand-opening.

The other Wal-Mart in Niles is a half mile from the City.

In Chicago, 2.25 percent of most retail sales goes to the City. The "big box" living wage" ordinance, unless vetoed by Mayor Daley, will probably mean 8,000 fewer jobs for Chicago residents. Wal-Mart is looking to build these SuperCenters in inner-city neighborhoods, where there is a paucity of decent retail shopping.

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