Walmart’s urban initiative: Is the timing right?

The time appears right for Walmart to push its urban initiative again. It’s harder for cities to argue against the sort of economic development and job creation that Walmart represents during a recession, even if many of those jobs are less than ideal in terms of high wages. And Walmart has been smarter in the last few years lining up on the “right side” of some social issues (such as greentailing and health insurance reform), making it harder to paint the company as a pure corporate villain.

City governments would be smart to consider the long-term gains of more aggressive central-city retail development, whether by Walmart or other big boxes that follow in its wake. Private employment to build and then operate big retail stores is probably the healthiest way to keep the economic recovery on track.

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