CHICAGO (CBS) -- Walmart plans to reopen all of its Chicago stores that are still closed weeks after they were hit by looters during the widespread civil unrest at the end of May.
Three Walmart Supercenters and four Walmart Neighborhood Markets -- mostly on the South and West sides -- remain closed for repairs after they were damaged by looters on the last weekend in May. The Supercenter at 109th & Doty in Pullman was not damaged by looters, but was temporarily closed as a precaution, and reopened on June 9.
"Clearly, it's been a difficult time for many urban locations, including Chicago, around our country, and across the country in general, as we fight a pandemic and continue to struggle for racial equity, and as we look at our opportunity here, we frankly just want to be a part of it," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said.
According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office, Walmart expects to reopen its Supercenter in the Hermosa neighborhood and its Neighborhood Market locations in Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, Lakeview, and Little Village by the end of July. Its Supercenters in Chatham and Austin are expected to open by the end of the year.
"This is truly a very good news story. This means welcoming back thousands of jobs, and welcoming back thousands of jobs, and increasing access to grocery stores and fresh produce close to home," Lightfoot said Friday afternoon. "Not only does this represent the return of 1,600 jobs, it also represents tens of millions of dollars in investment that Walmart is putting back into these communities."
The mayor said no city subsidies or tax incentives were part of the deal to reopen the shuttered Walmart locations.
Many people who live in the neighborhoods where those Walmart stores are located had feared they would never reopen, and that Walmart would use the excuse that they were not profitable to pull out of those areas.
McMillon acknowledged many of the stores that were closed due to looting are not profitable, but he said there was more to the company's decision to reopen them than just profit.
"We're focused on getting these stores prepared to reopen, and are pleased to announce today that all of them will be reopening," he said. "We're intending to be here to stay."
McMillon said the company also will be expanding its commitment to Chicago by adding new health centers at its Chatham and Austin as they are remodeled.
Walmart recently launched new health centers that offer medical appointments for physicals, wellness checks, and other primary care services; eye exams, and contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions; dental services; counseling services; X-ray imaging; diagnostic lab tests; hearing services; and fitness and nutrition classes.
Lightfoot said adding those health centers in largely Black communities will help shrink the healthcare gap in Chicago's minority neighborhoods.
"Those vulnerabilities that we knew existed pre-COVID really were exposed, kind of, and flashing at us like a neon sign through the course of COVID. I think we've learned a lot about what we need to do, and we certainly have a sense of urgency around that," she said.
The full list of stores reopening includes:
- Walmart Neighborhood Market, 2844 N Broadway
- Walmart Neighborhood Market, 2511 W Cermak Rd
- Walmart Neighborhood Market, 4720 S Cottage Grove Ave
- Walmart Neighborhood Market, 7535 S Ashland Ave
- Walmart Supercenter, 8331 S Stewart Ave
- Walmart Supercenter, 4650 W North Ave
- Walmart Supercenter, 4626 W Diversey Ave
- Walmart Supercenter, 10900 S Doty Ave, reopened June 9
Lightfoot noted that Walgreens also has committed to reopening all of its stores that were closed due to looting, but noted that some stores were more badly damaged than others, so will take longer to repair.
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