Walmart executive were said to be among a group of major retailers who met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday to discuss the elimination of the city’s “food deserts,” essentially areas where roughly 450,000 residents don’t have convenient access to fresh food.
According to an AP report, representatives from Walmart, Walgreen, Aldi and three other chains who were not identified met with Emanuel who reportedly showed a detailed map of the city’s food deserts and made an appeal for projects in specific areas.
Walmart secured approval to open dozens of stores in the city last year after a protracted and contentious battle with elected officials and union opponents. AP reported that Emanuel and the grocery executives talked about obstacles for expansion, including transportation, security, real estate and bureaucracy.
Although Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon was identified in the article, he was in Chicago on Wednesday for a presentation at a William Blair & Company investment conference where he spoke about a new store the company is opening next month in the Chatham neighborhood. Simon said the store, one of the company’s new small format concepts known as Walmart Market, will serve a food desert. Simon said the opening is going to be spectacular.