Chicago Wal-Mart battle heats up

July 23, 2009 (CHICAGO) People who believe a new Wal-Mart would bring more jobs thought they were close to getting approval for a new store in Chicago, but there's another delay.

An ordinance that would allow a new Wal-Mart on the South Side appears to be in limbo. Currently, it is in the city's rules committee. The rules committee chair, Alderman Dick Mell, tells ABC7 the ordinance should be in the finance committee.

Next Tuesday, Alderman Mell says he'll request the ordinance be moved to finance, but after Tuesday the finance committee doesn't convene until in September. The expected delay does not sit will with Wal-Mart supporters.

On Thursday, dozens rallied in support of Wal-Mart inside and outside City Hall on Thursday. They pleaded for Wal-Mart and the 400 jobs the giant retailer is expected to bring.

Jerry Williams, who is also unemployed, said, "There's a lot of unemployment in our community and we need jobs so we can be able to provide for our families."

Inside and outside City Hall supporters pleaded for Wal-Mart and the 400 jobs the giant retailer would bring.

"I just need a job, it doesn't have to be union just something to hold me over get me by and pay my bills," said Anita Marshall.

Wal-Mart proposes a 150,000-square-foot store at 83rd and Stewart in the West Chatham neighborhood. The store was to open next year, but a spokesman says a delay at City hall would push back hiring.

"We've done everything that the alderman asked us to do in terms of providing information, information about our jobs, about the compensation, the wages, the benefits we provide. So it is a bit perplexing as to why we're being delayed again," said John Bisio of Wal-Mart.

Some aldermen are optimistic about the possibility of a Wal-Mart.

"This is one of the few things that I can think of that will right away put people to work immediately and I am begging my colleagues to get on board with this," said Alderman Howard Brookins of the 21st Ward.

While the development would bring jobs, some worry about the complications Wal-Mart would bring to the neighborhood.

Marisa Johnson lives in West Chatham and owns a business. Johnson doesn't want the congestion and impact of a large retailer locating near smaller retailers.

"There are businesses I've seen go under without Wal-Mart. I can't imagine how bad it's going to be once Wal-Mart gets there," said Johnson.

This would be the second Wal-Mart in Chicago.

A Wal-Mart on the West Side opened three years ago. Some union leaders have been critical of Wal-Mart's hiring process at its Westside store. They were not available for on camera interviews today, but they tell ABC7 Wal-Mart has not followed through with its promise to hire ex-offenders.

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