While we appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from Burbank residents, elected officials and stakeholders over the past few months, it's clear that a handful of special interests are attempting to misinform readers by peddling the same old urban myths about our company.
As we move closer to opening our first store in Burbank, we thought it was appropriate to share some feedback from people who actually live in the city — as well as some facts about our company — in an effort set the record straight ("Walmart concerns grow," Feb. 4).
We think our store can be part of the solution for residents who need a job or want access to more affordably priced goods close to home. Plus, the opportunity to replace a dormant retail property is not only in line with our sustainability goals, but it will help sustain the economic vitality of the surrounding area.
Most residents agree.
When we hosted an open house here last fall, many of the folks who attended were seeking better employment opportunities or expressed frustration about having to take their families — and their tax dollars — to our Porter Ranch or Santa Clarita stores just to have access to the broad assortment of products they need.
Other residents we spoke with appreciated our flexible approach to the Empire Center site and thought a smaller, 143,000-square-foot Walmart store would complement the existing retail landscape.
About 200 of the 300 or so in attendance even signed cards offering to help bring the store to their community.
That's because those looking for a job know our wages and benefits meet or exceed those offered by a majority of our Burbank competitors. The 300 associates we'll employ in Burbank will have the opportunity to earn a competitive wage and advance within the company.
In California, our full-time average hourly wage is $12.69 per hour, 58% above the state's minimum wage. Nearly 75% of our store management teams here joined the company as hourly associates, and in 2010, more than 146,000 hourly associates in Walmart U.S. stores received promotions, and 55% of those associates were women.
Residents who are focused on price know that our new store will offer an unparalleled choice for brand-name apparel, sporting goods, electronics and health and beauty products, as well as pharmacy and affordable groceries. We're building customer loyalty and trust with everyday low prices, staying true to the foundation Sam Walton provided nearly 50 years ago.
What's more, we're taking even more steps to help people save money through initiatives like our ad match program and by combining our stores with online, mobile and social media channels so they can shop whenever, wherever and however they want.
Lastly, locals want to see empty buildings like the Great Indoors store quickly converted to something that retains the proper, entitled use and that complements the surrounding business community. All across the country, our stores coexist with other businesses — large and small — and in many communities Walmart serves as a magnet for growth and development.
Plus, for a company focused on environmental sustainability, there's no greener building than a repurposed one. Our new store will include energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features to reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste.
Again, thanks to all the Burbank officials and residents who have championed our new store. We look forward to being a good corporate neighbor here for years to come and look forward to greeting the thousands of customers who will visit us the first day we open for business.
Editor's note: Restivo is senior director of community affairs for Walmart.