Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM
The first Walmart store within Cleveland's city limits opened early yesterday morning with lots of fanfare. The store is a cornerstone of the Steelyard Commons retail complex, and its location in Cleveland was hard-won. ideastream's Bill Rice reports.
That Walmart enthusiasm that's at least the public face of the retail giant's corporate culture was very much in evidence at 7am this morning.
Fired up, indeed. The Walmart crew, about 200 of them, were all smiles as store manager Chris Jones and Walmart regional manager Jerry Spencer officially opened the new supercenter - with Cleveland Mayor Frank jackson cutting the ribbon. A Walmart within the city limits originally met resistant from some city council members. They were especially worried its non-union grocery department would be unfair competition to other unionized grocery stores. But others hailed the jobs and tax revenue that Walmart and other big box stores would bring to the city. In the end, Steelyard developer Mitchell Schneider and Walmart signed a deal before council could enact an ordinance to block the grocery component.
At the the grand opening, Mayor Jackson called Walmart a good citizen, notably for waiving a tax abatement the company was entitled to for building on contaminated land.
Walmart managers made a show of generosity and appreciation, presenting checks to variety of local nonprofits - some of them faith-based. Check amounts ranged from 5 to 10 thousand dollars.
For 90.3 WCPN, I'm Bill Rice.