I would like to respond to a commentary by James L. McDonald and Valerie J. Carter (“Bangor should stop the sprawl,” Oct. 14). While I respect the writers’ opinions and beliefs, I feel compelled to set the record straight regarding some erroneous information they chose to present.
Wal-Mart has been an exemplary corporate citizen of Bangor and the state of Maine. Through our local fund-raising efforts, Bangor store associates contributed more than $300,000 last year to a variety of worthwhile organizations including Eastern Maine Medical Center. Few if any local companies have given as much back to the local community. Wal-Mart also regularly provides grants for environmental programs, scholarships, and other community programs while also generating significant real estate and sales tax revenue for the community. With particular respect to the proposed new development, we are expecting to create an additional 250 new jobs for the community, 70% of which would be full-time positions.
Contrary to what was said in last week’s editorial, all Wal-Mart associates are eligible for benefits including health insurance, profit sharing, 401 K, paid vacations, stock purchase, scholarships, and store discounts to name just a few. Wal-Mart’s benefits package is considered one of the best in the retail industry, which explains why
Wal-Mart is regularly featured in Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies To Work For” and “America’s Most Admired Companies.” As far as career opportunities, Wal-Mart is committed to promoting from within the company and 65 percent of our management actually began their careers as hourly associates.
In addition to hiring locally Wal-Mart does business with 417 manufacturers in the State of Maine, purchasing more than $108 million worth of merchandise to supply our stores. Wal-Mart also contracts with local businesses to provide banking services, ground maintenance, sanitation services, snow removal, landscaping, security and much more. Our commitment to U.S. suppliers of goods and services keeps America working.
As far as the unsubstantiated claim that Wal-Mart brings nothing positive to communities, chambers of commerce and city officials across the country have written hundreds of letters thanking Wal-Mart for contributing jobs and economic stability to the area, additional tax revenues to city, county and state offices, charitable contributions to local organizations, and for being a good neighbor in their community.
Although we are in the preliminary stages of the permitting process we are confident that we can continue to exceed existing development guidelines and regulations which will result in a high-quality development that we can all be proud of. This is why regularly scheduled public hearings have been postponed in an effort to address concerns which have been raised.
I don’t fault McDonald or Carter for expressing their views on the environment. We do share some of the same concerns and hopefully we can all find some middle ground as this process evolves. I do however have a problem with those individuals who attack Wal-Mart’s employment practices, benefits, or community standing by using unsubstantiated information that has no basis in fact.
It is possible to express one’s concern for the environment without slandering a company which has done so many positive things for the Bangor community.
Keith Morris is Community Affairs Manager for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in Bentonville, Ark.