Bloomberg referred to Wal-Mart as “one of the great corporate citizens in this country” during a press conference yesterday to announce the company’s four million dollar donation to New York City’s Youth Employment Program. The donation will create 3,400 jobs, and Bloomberg says that’s all that matters. While many are suspicious that this donation is part of Wal-Mart’s campaign to open up a NYC location, Michelle Gilliard, a representative for the company’s philanthropic division, insisted that the money was simply part of an ongoing effort to help children and “make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.”
When reporters pressed Gilliard as to whether or not the donation’s timing is an attempt to buy the city’s goodwill, Bloomberg stepped in. “You’re telling me that your company’s philanthropy doesn’t look to see what is good for your company?” he shot back.
While Bloomberg is receptive to Wal-Mart’s courting, many New Yorkers are less than happy about the idea of an NYC location. The opposition group “Wal-Mart Free NYC” issued a statement that “Wal-Mart can’t be trusted.” Additionally, many City Council members and labor advocates also oppose a store in the city because they fear that it will hurt small businesses.
On the other hand, DNA Info points out that many New Yorkers want a Wal-Mart in NYC because of its convenience and prices. Two women in Hell’s Kitchen told the site that they currently take the train to Jersey to shop at Wal-Mart, and a Quinnipiac University poll claimed that 68 percent of New Yorkers say they would shop at Wal-Mart. 63 percent told the pollsters that they know Wal-Mart is bad for mom and pop shops, but they would shop there anyway.