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Wal-Mart Groundbreaking Brings Cheers? Or Was it Jeers?

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Feb 22, 2005 7:37PM

WalmartWell, depends who you ask. After a ton of debate the City Council approved the building of Chicago's first Wal-Mart on the city's West Side. A huge crowd showed up yesterday for the groundbreaking ceremony which included a high school band and a ribbon cutting. But the protestors also showed up.

Alderman Emma Mitts, who led the way to bringing Wal-Mart to the West Side, says we should be celebrating becuase it's been a struggle to get Wal-Mart in Chicago. A West-Side activist, Pastor Joseph Kyles, points out that it's better to have a job at Wal-Mart than to not have a job at all, despite controversy over wages and unions.

Those who protest the superstore say it will be bad for the neighborhood. And some African American contractors say they've been locked out of the competition to build the new store. And other activists, apparently not associated with Pastor Kyles, don't think that Wal-Mart wages are high enough to live off of. To which a Wal-Mart spokesman points out that they pay, on average, $11.03/hour, which is more than double the minimum wage.

Local businesses seem to be split. Some say Wal-Mart's low price will force them to shut down and other say that the increased traffic that the store will bring will be good for business.

NBC5 has a survey on its site and so far 62% of us have voted that we favor Wal-Mart inside Chicago's city limits. What do you think?

Photo via AFP/Getty Images/File/Tim Boyle