Wal-Mart To Move Into 6 D.C. Urban Neighborhoods

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While some communities have fought to keep Wal-Mart out, officials in Washington, D.C., have welcomed the retailer with open arms. Most of the stores will be built in underserved neighborhoods. But community activists complain city leaders should have pressed Wal-Mart for concessions on starting salaries and other benefits before announcing the deal.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with Wal-Mart entering the nation's capital. Wal-Mart says it will open six stores in Washington, D.C., its first stores in that city. It's a coup for the retailer and for the city's mayor. Patrick Madden from member station WAMU reports.

PATRICK MADDEN, BYLINE: While some communities have fought to keep Wal-Mart out, D.C. officials have welcomed the retailer with open arms. Most of the stores will be built in underserved neighborhoods and city leaders say the promise of hundreds of jobs and access to fresh groceries overrode concerns about Wal-Mart possibly driving down wages or driving out small businesses.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Steven Restivo says the company is targeting neighborhoods with few retail options.

STEVE RESTIVO: There are large pockets of underserved communities, in some cases even food deserts, where people just don't have choices. We feel our stores can be part of the solution again.

MADDEN: But community activists like Dyana Forester, complain city leaders should've pressed Wal-Mart for concessions on starting salaries and other benefits before announcing the deal.

DYANA FORESTER: When you make negotiations behind closed doors and then you say you're building six Wal-Marts, and we want to know where the community engagement is, the community is not being involved in the process.

MADDEN: Washington Mayor Vincent Gray says the city is working on a community benefits agreement with Wal-Mart. For NPR News, I'm Patrick Madden in Washington.

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