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GUEST OPINION: Addressing the myths about Wal-Mart and the Rohnert Park store

  • The Rohnert Park Wal-Mart (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

All across California, we’re finding that the more people learn facts about Wal-Mart — as opposed to the kind of urban myths recently peddled in these pages by Martin J. Bennett (“Time to stop the Wal-Mart supercenter,” Close to Home, Feb. 15) — the more they see the value in bringing a store to their community .

For example, our stores provide a broad assortment of products at an everyday low price. Our wages and benefits meet or exceed those offered by a majority of our competitors. And our stores are often magnets for growth and development all across the country.

For these reasons and more, many members of the community are excited about the proposed expansion of our Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park. As a partner here for more than 20 years, we’ve provided residents with employment opportunities and more affordable shopping options.

From a jobs perspective, here’s what our critics don’t get that our customers and our associates already know: Entry-level jobs often lead to bigger jobs. Our average, hourly full-time wage in the state is $12.89. At Wal-Mart, you can climb the ladder from a stocker to a department manager to a store manager and beyond. About 75 percent of our store management started as hourly associates, and they earn between $50,000 and $170,000 a year. In fact, every year at Wal-Mart we promote about 170,000 people to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.

We insure one million people, and our lowest medical plan is $17 per paycheck, half the national average for single coverage per pay period. The plan includes no lifetime maximum for covered expenses and preventative care covered at 100 percent.

What’s more, Wal-Mart stores often serve as magnets for other new businesses, large and small. The small businesses that surround our stores generally have products and services we don’t offer or are strong in areas where we can’t compete. Here in California, independent research has shown that, on average, communities with a Wal-Mart enjoy general business growth and an increase in citywide taxable retail sales.

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