CHICAGO — Mayor Richard Daley asked aldermen on Thursday to support a third Walmart store in Chicago, part of the retail giant's plan open stores across the city and further penetrate urban markets.
Daley said a third store located on the city's South Side would bring much-needed jobs and stimulate the economy. He quickly dismissed years of controversy over fair wage issues and competition with small businesses involving the current store on the West Side and one slated to open in 2012 on the South Side.
"You have to be bringing jobs," he said at a news conference. "It has a positive rippling effect on the community. There is nothing wrong with this."
Daley doesn't need City Council approval for the third store, but he said he wanted the support of city leaders. The matter was due before a committee on Friday.
The first store, which opened in 2006, was fought by labor unions and small-business owners who claimed unfair wages and long-term adverse effects, such as running local stores out of business. But many politicians and activists were eager for shopping convenience, cheaper goods and jobs in an economically depressed area.
Last month, the City Council approved a second store to open in 2012 on the city's South Side. Labor leaders dropped their opposition when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay starting wages at $8.75 an hour, along with raises of 40 cents to 60 cents an hour after the first year. Illinois' minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.
Daley did not have details on the third store, including when it would open. But he said Wal-Mart would pay the higher-than-minimum wage rate.
The world's largest retailer has plans to open several dozen stores across the city in a five-year plan called "Chicago Community Investment Partnership." The goal is to create 12,000 jobs and generate $500 million in tax revenue.
Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark. A message left Thursday for a spokesman wasn't immediately returned.
Business owners in the area surrounding the third store site said they were nervous.
Chris Wilson, the owner of Wilson Brothers Paint & Hardware Co., said he understood the need for cheaper food options in the area.
But times have been tough for his business that has been around since 1875. He hasn't been able to hire any new staff because of the sluggish economy.
"We're not real thrilled," he said. "We'll definitely lose some business, and business is tight right now."