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Originally published Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Wal-Mart picks sites for stores

Wal-Mart Stores, seeking to counter opposition to its urban expansion plans, has selected nine additional high-unemployment zones where...

Bloomberg News

Wal-Mart Stores, seeking to counter opposition to its urban expansion plans, has selected nine additional high-unemployment zones where it plans to open stores in the next two years.

The world's largest retailer, which already picked the West Side of Chicago as the first of 10 planned zones, said it will open a store each in Indianapolis; East Hills, Pa.; Cleveland; Decatur, Ga.; El Mirage, Ariz.; Landover Hills, Md.; and Portsmouth, Va. It selected two California sites, in Richmond and Sanger.

Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott announced in April that Wal-Mart would set up such "jobs and opportunity zones."

Separately, Wal-Mart still plans to open 50 stores in the next two years on vacant land, contaminated sites and in rundown malls, company spokesman David Tovar said.

More than 15,000 people applied for the 400 jobs available at the West Side Chicago store that Wal-Mart opened in September on an abandoned site, Tovar said. Other businesses, including a drugstore, a home-improvement store and a coffee shop have moved into the area, he said.

"This is an example of the positive impact we can have on the communities and is exactly why the program has been created," Tovar said Monday.

Part of the initiative involves supporting local businesses by providing free advertising inside Wal-Mart stores and giving funding to local chambers of commerce.

Wal-Mart is seeking to open locations in densely populated areas to spur growth and has been stymied by unions, lawmakers and community groups. Some small businesses have opposed the retailer, saying they can't compete with its size and prices.

In the past two years, the retailer has withdrawn plans for stores on the South Side of Chicago and in the New York borough of Queens after local opposition.

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