By Nikki Garrett Metzger
High Desert Daily
(Victorville/Hesperia) – The cities of Hesperia and Victorville broke ground on Tuesday morning on two Walmart Supercenters in what is touted as a retail renaissance for the area.
The construction and operation of these centers will create a positive economic impact to the area, city officials said. “This particular project will be the first Walmart in the Victor Valley with groceries. The new site will include food, a Tire Lube Express center, and a McDonald’s restaurant. The square footage of this facility will be 193,230 square feet. It is slated to open in the summer or fall of 2012,” Mayor Ryan McEachron said of the Victorville location.
Walmart spokesman Aaron Rios said the projects are expected to take a year to complete with openings around mid-2012.
Walmart is one of the largest employers in the Victor Valley with over 1500 existing employees between the current Victorville and Apple Valley locations, and the distribution center. The current number of employees at the current store in Victorville is 300; this new store will add another 85 employees, according to officials.
McEachron said, “Average sales tax revenue from a Walmart store with groceries is over $790,000 annually. That’s a big contribution back into our community and allows us to put more police officers on the street, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Chairman of the Board for the Victorville Chamber, Robert Lovingood, commented, “As the world’s largest private employer with over 2 million employees and over 8500 worldwide stores, the economic value that Walmart will add to the city of Victorville will be great. The additional stores will be a tremendous creation of new jobs, and I truly believe every job counts in our economy today. We welcome Walmart as the great community neighbors that we believe they are, not only here but worldwide.”
Rebecca Tennison, Field Representative for Assemblyman Steve Knight, remarked about the new supercenters, “Thank you Wal-Mart, and congratulations Victorville. This actually gives us hope – hope that the economy is turning around. For them to break ground on two supercenters, not only one, gives us that light at the end of the tunnel. This is a big deal for all of us, for the community.”
Aaron Rios, senior manager, public affairs, and government relations for Walmart spoke about the company’s start in the Victor Valley. “A little over 20 years ago we opened our store on Bear Valley Rd, the first in the Victor Valley, and one of the first in the state of California. Our ability to continue to grow and serve the residents of Victorville is due to the overwhelming support that we’ve received from our dedicated Walmart customers week after week.”
Rios continued, “Another important and overlooked partner in our success in Victorville is our great suppliers. This includes more than 175 San Bernardino county businesses, of which 80% are small businesses with less than 50 employees. Last year alone we purchased more than $530 million in goods and services from our San Bernardino county supplier base, helping support over 7000 additional regional jobs.”
Rios expressed his gratitude to everyone involved on this project. “I’d like to thank the mayor, the city council, the staff, as well as the numerous agencies that have been, and will be involved in making the Walmart with fresh groceries a reality in 2012.”
“I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank our great associates, including Michael Atchison our market manager and Joe our store manager. We have over 300 associates working at the store everyday to take care of our great customers. The new Walmart with groceries will create 85 new jobs as well as hundreds of temporary construction jobs and a likely expanded role for our suppliers and the jobs that they support,” said Rios.
Rios explained that Walmart is a top contributor to local organizations and communities. Their focus now is on ending hunger. “As a top corporate cash contributor in 2010, Walmart is committed to hunger relief and efforts to bring fresh, affordable groceries to communities we serve. Last year we announced efforts to contribute more than $2.1 billion to hunger relief efforts in the U.S by the year 2015 to help eradicate hunger. This new location, with the addition of fresh groceries, will help continue our efforts to provide fresh, affordable grocery options to our customers, and support our hunger relief efforts in the Victorville community.”
Rios concluded his speech, “Today’s ceremony exemplifies the dedication that we have to serving our community and customers, as well as the leadership of the city of Victorville to support businesses that will create greater consumer choice, better prices on fresh, affordable groceries for families, and sustainable job growth for residents of the Victor Valley so that they can live a better life.”