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Wal-Mart creates $10-million fund to spur U.S. manufacturing

Wal-Mart creates $10-million fund to spur U.S. manufacturing
Wal-Mart announced a $10-million fund to spur U.S. manufacturing. Above, a worker in Georgia checks spools of yarn that will be woven into towels that will be sold at Wal-Mart. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Wal-Mart announced Thursday it would create a $10-million fund to help support and spur innovation in U.S. manufacturing.

Bill Simon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.S. president, outlined some of the details of the fund at the United
States Conference of Mayors' winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

The five-year program will launch in March and will be conducted in collaboration with the mayors' conference, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

Grants will be aimed at universities and think tanks in hopes of finding ways to bolster U.S. manufacturing.

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"If we want to grow manufacturing and help rebuild America's middle class, we need the brightest minds in our universities, in our think tanks, and in our towns to tackle obstacles to U.S. manufacturing," Simon said in a statement.

Katie Cody, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said more details would be released in March, including how many grants may be awarded.

The action by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is the latest in moves it has taken to boost U.S. manufacturing. Last year, the Arkansas company announced it would buy an additional $50 billion in American products as part of a multi-year pledge. The company estimates it would buy $250 billion of American products cumulatively in the next 10 years.

Wal-Mart on Thursday also announced that one of its suppliers, Kent Bicycles, would move its production from overseas to Clarendon, S.C. The company, based in Parsippany, N.J., said it would begin production in fall of 2014. 

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