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2006-10-09
Bentonville, AR. Wal-Mart Uses Internet To Line Up Oregon Supporters

Borrowing a page from its citizen group opponents, Wal-Mart is doing a little community organizing in the state of Oregon, hoping to improve its lagging projects in the Northwest. Wal-Mart's new organizing offensive comes on the heels of a number of prominent store defeats for the huge retailer. The company claims that its website has attracted 15,250 Oregonians from across the state, who have offered to help fight for more Wal-Mart stores. "From Portland to Medford," Wal-Mart said in a press release, "Oregonians have united in their support of the world's largest retailer by attending public hearings and testifying in support of Wal-Mart, writing letters to the editor of their local community newspapers and voicing their support to friends, family and neighbors." Wal-Mart says it will use the website, , "to inform supporters, community members and the media of Oregon projects." The site allows visitors to join Wal-Mart's database of Oregon supporters. "We're excited to provide a new source for information on our proposed new and expanded stores in Oregon," said a Wal-Mart regional public affairs manager. "Our stores bring new shopping opportunities, high quality jobs and increased tax revenue to Oregon communities, and thousands of Oregonians are taking notice." The problem has been, thousands of Oregonians have noticed Wal-Mart's applications -- and turned out in large numbers to fight the superstores. So pronounced has opposition to Wal-Mart become across Oregon, that a retail store has to hire PR firms, launch a website, and organize people to counter the efforts of anti-Wal-Mart residents. Wal-Mart says its website will provide "information on proposed Oregon stores, including details on store designs, decisions made by local and state officials about the stores, how community members can voice support for the new stores, upcoming public hearings and conceptual drawings."

What you can do: You can expect to see these new "supporters" websites being created by Wal-Mart, state by state. People who come to the website are asked to fill out a check list that indicates their willingness to attend a public hearing and "speak in favor of the store", write a letter to the editor, or send an email to elected officials. Wal-Mart has often found itself sitting alone at hearings, while hundreds of opponents bash their plans. As a defense, Wal-Mart has been forced to go on the offense. There is probably no retail store in the history of America that has had to go to such lengths to organize people to support it. All of this Wal-Mart has brought upon itself by being so high-handed and inflexible in its dealing with local folks. So watch for a Wal-Mart supporter website coming to your state, and fill out the forms as a way for you to keep track of what Wal-Mart is up to. Anti-Wal-Mart activists should respond to the website posing as Wal-Mart supporters, and then use the information gleaned from that site against the retailer at hearings. For examples of cities and towns in Oregon that have troubled Wal-Mart, search Newsflash by "Oregon."










 
 
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