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Friday, December 18, 2009

Chatham WalMart Back in Spotlight

This summer the city of Chicago was focused on the Olympics bid. There was however a few weeks when the city took some time to consider the proposal of WalMart to build a new store in the Chatham neighborhood. The proposal was being stalled in the Finance Committee chaired by Ed Burke. Burke stalled the bill and the momentum was lost as the city council took time off during the fall.

The Chatham WalMart proposal would create 500 UNION jobs just during construction. It would create another 400 permanent non union store jobs. Furthermore, WalMart will self finance this proposal in cash and will require absolutely no assistance from the city of Chicago and its tax payers. Another Chicago WalMart has generated over $10 million in tax revenues for the city since its inception 2 years ago. Meanwhile, Chicago residents spend $500 million yearly at Walmart stores immediately outside the city.

In fact, the proposal should be a no brainer. The city has 10% plus unemployment. It has no money and Walmart will not only bring in jobs but a self financed project. Worse yet, the place where Walmart wants to build is currently a bunch of gravel. The only reason this proposal is being held up is that much of the city council is in bed with the unions. Even though Walmart hires union workers to construct the store, that isn't enough. Because Walmart itself isn't unionized, the city council must take a stand against its construction.

This story was laying on the backburner until yesterday. Then, Mayor Daley said this.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has launched a new push to bring more Walmart stores to Chicago.

He says with the recession dragging on, Aldermen, labor leaders and Walmart need to come up a way to make it happen.

The mayor says he knows he's raising a political hot potato.

There was a huge debate five years ago over a so-called "big box" minimum wage ordinance when Walmart was trying to build two stores in the city.

Now, in the last two days, both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune have each, again, come out in favor of the proposal.

Only seven shopping days left till Christmas, and you know what that means: Head for the suburbs.

This year's holiday shoppers have shorter lists, and they're looking for bargains like never before. Industry surveys show that half or more of them are spending time and money at big-box discount chains.

Can you say Wal-Mart? Consumers who are seduced by those ads for a $195 iPod
or a $299 Toshiba laptop will likely find their closest Wal-Mart outside the city limits, thanks to Chicago's labor unions.The city still has just one, in the West Side Austin neighborhood.This is doubly maddening if all you want for Christmas is a job. Since 2004, when a divided City Council voted to allow Chicago's first Wal-Mart, the economy has gone down, down, down, while efforts to bring in a second Wal-Mart -- and 500 new jobs -- have gone nowhere



The time for a South Side Wal-Mart has come. Unemployment in the Chicago region hovers above 11 percent, with higher rates among blacks.

City revenues are down 31 percent from a high point in 2007.

Even Mayor Daley, who hasn't pushed hard for Wal-Mart for fear of alienating the unions, is publicly going to bat for the superstore.

"People can't get jobs," Daley said Wednesday. "They're not only being laid off, they're being eliminated out of their companies. So I'm calling on everyone -- both the alderman, the community, all the unions involved and Wal-Mart -- to sit down and come up with some common ground as quickly as possible."

It's now up to Ald. Edward M. Burke to make it happen.

Burke, however, is making his stand. Meanwhile, Mayor Daley is paying lip service to this proposal but if he really wanted to have a Walmart built, they'd have already broken ground.

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