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Wal-money! Big-box donates millions to city jobs program as part of PR blitz

The Brooklyn Paper
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Walmart is putting its money where its mouth is.

The controversial big-box is amping up its PR blitz to garner support for its first Brooklyn location — with a $4-million donation to a city program that will help more than 1,000 Brooklyn teens get jobs this summer, and sponsorship of a popular Crown Heights summer concert series.

The donation to the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which places people ages 14 through 24 in minimum wage jobs at major retail chains like Best Buy and Staples, restored 1,360 jobs in Brooklyn — 3,400 city-wide — that otherwise would have been lost due to budget cuts, said city spokeswoman Samantha Levine. Under the program, the city pays private companies to employ the workers it recommends.

That’s not all — this week Borough President confirmed that Walmart is co-sponsoring the Beep’s Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. The big-box is dropping $150,000 to be one of the 11 companies associated with the annual Wingate Field series.

The goodwill isn’t without its political motivations, of course. The philanthropy comes as Walmart is rumored to be eyeing several potential sites, including a plot of land next to Caesar’s Bay in Gravesend, and Gateway II, a planned shopping center off the Belt Parkway in East New York, for its first foray into Brooklyn.

And its dough dole-outs are turning former foes into friends.

Borough President Markowitz, who used to say he opposed a Brooklyn Walmart because of the company’s non-union policy, was all smiles at a July 5 press conference announcing the Summer Youth Employment Program donation. He even went so far as to say “kudos” to Walmart. And now, the company’s a major sponsor of his beloved concert series, which kick off tonight with Maze.

Markowitz declined to comment further on his sudden warming up to Walmart, but he told the New York Post that “Walmart has been very generous in supporting events and initiatives throughout the city.”

Still, not all were charmed by Walmart’s altruism.

“Rather than hiding behind a fancy PR campaign and millions of dollars, Walmart needs to finally talk openly about their history of alleged discrimination and putting local mom and pops out of business,” said Eric Koch of Walmart Free NYC, which formed specifically to block Walmart from coming to Brooklyn.

And Councilman Charles Barron (D–East New York), a staunch Walmart foe, insists that the superstore will drive out more jobs than it can ever create, citing a January report commissioned by the public advocate’s office that concluded Walmart store openings kill three jobs for every two they make.

“Walmart is a retail predator,” said Barron. “And we’re not going to be bribed by this corporation’s chump change.”

Walmart declined to comment on its Brooklyn mission, saying only that “no leases have been signed in the city yet.”

The retailer has faced an uphill battle in its attempts to set up shop in Brooklyn. In April, Walmart foes urged the city not to sell land it owns to the developer of the East New York shopping center because they believe it will bring in Walmart. The mayor’s office still hasn’t decided on that land transfer.

For months, Walmart has tried to silence its critics with a major advertising campaign. In January, the company began taking out ads in dozens of local papers, including the Brooklyn Paper and Courier-Life chain, and www.walmartnyc.com/">started a website that recruits city residents to sign a petition in favor of a city store. The company also released a poll saying that 76 percent of Brooklynites would welcome the superstore.

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Reader Feedback

Cynthia from Clinton hil says:
No way! !!! No keep that money hungry store out
.
July 11, 2011, 2:37 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Wal Mart has jobs.

Charles Barron has none.

Wal Mart will pay taxes and so will their employees when they have pay checks.

Does Wal Mart kill jobs? How about Amazon, and Fresh Direct?

Charles Barron - barren of ideas. Keep the Union Bribes alive!

July 11, 2011, 6:52 am
David Brown from LES says:
The reality of the matter is Wal-Mart will most likely find a way to enter New York City. The only way that they can be kept out is if the State Legislature passes laws (Like in California), that makes Big Box store construction close to impossible, or someone like Charles Barron becomes Mayor.
I used to be opposed to Walmart but the reality is there is a dire need for jobs (Both Construction and Retail), and when you read about 1/4 to 1/2 of all jobs in May, were at McDonalds, and the job creation number was even WORSE in June, then you know something needs to be done.
As for Barron, he is without question, the most anti-business member of the City Council, so his views on "Job Creation" are not to be taken seriously (He is so extreme, he makes Letitia James look Conservative). As for his cited his "Report", the so-called "Public Advocate" John Liu is known to be the mouthpiece for Municipal Unions (Even to the point of saying there is no problem with pensions). So that should not be taken seriously either.
July 11, 2011, 6:56 am
judahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
David Brown from the LES, Mr. know nothing. Who is the "Public Advocate" in NYC?? Tick tock......tick tock....
July 11, 2011, 9:03 am
judahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
Walmart supports 2% tariff on imports from China to the US.

Walmart supports 25% tariff on US exports to China.

This is why I am against Walmart.

Hoping someonr unbias person out there can explain why this is bad for the US economy, lest I be charged with being bias.
July 11, 2011, 9:07 am
Al from Bay Ridge says:
Who let in Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond? If they were given a right to operate here, why shouldn't Walmart be given that right also? Not only will Walmart bring jobs, but it will bring lower prices for us on fixed incomes.
Go Walmart!
July 11, 2011, 9:23 am
BrooklynMurdochWatch from Brooklyn says:
This paper is owned by Robert Murdoch, whose papers in the UK were brought down because reporters hacked into murder victims homes. Murchoch

I just did a quick search and found out the connection between the owner of this paper and Walmart:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAOr6yRLwA0
July 11, 2011, 10:18 am
BrooklynMurdochWatch from Brooklyn says:
PS: I just watched the video I linked too- it's a wacky libertarian who blames every problem in the world to government regulation. Sorry!
July 11, 2011, 10:23 am
Resident from PPW says:
I can't wait for Walmart to come to Brooklyn. Walmart brings construction jobs then regular jobs to residents of the tri-state area. A low paying job is better than no job at all. I hope they build one of those mega stores!
July 11, 2011, 12:38 pm
Bob from BathBeach says:
Walmart Caesar’s Bay sound's good to me!
July 11, 2011, 12:53 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Once again, money talks and is able to buy the political support. This shows why politicians will support whoever gives them the most money. Philantrophy is the easiest way to get your support that in return, the politician(s) you please must support you in every way or form or they will back you enemies instead. The only type of jobs Wal-Mart brings is nothing more than minium wage jobs, and that's not what the people need. That could make sense if you needed a part time jobs, but not a full time job. The only reason other big box stores are in NYC is because many of them have agreed to either having unions are at least giving their employees the needed benefits, which Wal-Mart never allows for.
July 11, 2011, 2:39 pm
jj from brooklyn says:
cute how you downplay markowitz connection here. the ny post story today was more explicit in placing the borough president in walmart's pocket.
July 11, 2011, 4:15 pm

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