Capping months of negotiations, Pomona has signed a contract with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to build and open a retail store in time for the 1995 holiday season, city officials said.
The deal is expected to create 200 jobs and bring up to $375,000 annually in sales tax revenues. That will be a crucial shot in the arm for Pomona, which has been plagued by plant closures and high unemployment.
"This is pretty significant, and it's a huge step in moving forward with an entire Pomona regional center," said Darrell George, Pomona's economic development director.
The city would like to lure two more large tenants--including a multiplex cinema--to an adjacent site in south Pomona, west of the 71 Freeway and north of the 60.
Wal-Mart broke ground on the 129,645-square-foot store March 6, just days after purchasing 40 acres from the city for $3.7 million. That is somewhat below market value but more than what Pomona paid for the land about 10 years ago, city officials said.
George said the city lowered its asking price because it expects to reap big rewards from Wal-Mart's operation. Terms of the deal also call for Pomona to make roadway improvements, install traffic signals and expand access to utilities, which will cost the city from $100,000 to $150,000, George said.
In return, Pomona will get a large tax generator. Wal-Mart's building contractor has also agreed to hold a job fair and hire about 250 local construction workers for temporary jobs.
Additionally, city officials say Wal-Mart's arrival will give them something the city has lacked in the past: a regional shopping hub.
Right now, "you cannot buy a man's suit in Pomona," asserted Councilwoman Paula Lantz. "This will give our people somewhere to go shopping in Pomona."
City officials have been negotiating for the past 18 months with Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest retailer. The fast-growing chain, whose main competitor is Kmart, builds stores that offer a huge selection of goods and such services as auto repair and tax preparation. The Pomona store will include 36 departments with everything from sporting goods to women's fashion.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based firm owns 2,133 Wal-Marts nationwide, including one in Glendora, 143 super centers and two other discount chains. Sales grew 23% for the year ended Jan. 21 to $82.5 billion and earnings grew 15% to $2.7 billion.
Wal-Mart officials said Pomona had the right mix of demographics, population and location. Les Copeland, a company spokesman, declined to give further details of how the firm chose Pomona for its store, citing competitive reasons.