By  on June 22, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday it is working with the city of Chicago on a plan to build “several dozen” stores and create about 10,000 jobs in the process.

As part of a long-term initiative, dubbed the Chicago Community Investment Partnership, Wal-Mart said within five years it would seek to open stores that, in addition to positions within the stores and organization, would create about 2,000 unionized construction jobs to help ease the city’s 11.4 percent unemployment rate.

The plan also is geared to eradicating three so-called “food deserts” in which 600,000 Chicagoans reside without access to affordable groceries, Wal-Mart said.

“While our goals are dependent on our ability to site and build stores in a timely fashion, we remain confident that we can make a real difference to Chicagoans in need of a job and those who seek more convenient access to fresh, affordable food, especially those living in the city’s underserved communities,” said Hank Mullany, executive vice president and president of the Wal-Mart North unit of Wal-Mart U.S.

Anthony Beale, an alderman in Chicago’s ninth ward, said, “Our city is facing a number of challenges, but most of all, we need good jobs. There is a growing divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and this initiative has the potential to begin to level the playing field for all Chicagoans.” Beale is working to bring one of the Wal-Mart stores to his community, said Wal-Mart in a statement. According to the statement, the stores would generate more than $500 million in sales and property taxes, but Wal-Mart did not break out specifics.

Wal-Mart said the Wal-Mart Foundation plans to commit $20 million over the next five years for programs designed to eradicate hunger and curb youth violence in the third most populous city in the U.S. About 1.2 million meals will be donated to Chicago residents annually, beginning with 200,000 meals for children this summer.

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