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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Would Walmart mean boom or bust for west Louisville?
Critics say the big box store's labor practices would actually hurt the economy. But Walmart supporters on Monday rallied to send a different message.
The old Philip Morris property has been abandoned for more than a decade. Now a coalition of activists, ministers and business people are rolling out the welcome mat for Walmart.
Clarence Yancey has been cooking since he was 13 years old. He's now 81 and owns a catering business.
Yancey says having a Walmart just down the street, would mean one-stop shopping for the supplies he needs.
"They have all kinds of stuff. Plus my thing is getting young folks jobs. That's the main thing," said Yancey.
That's why Yancey joined a coalition of west end leaders preaching a message of welcome to any big box store looking to locate here.
"So we say Walmart come on. We say to Meijers come on. We tell them all to come on," said Rev. Milton Seymore, Executive Director of the Justice Resource Center.
The city of Louisville is in talks with a major retailer, believed to be Walmart.
"We say come on. Bring it on because we need you and we need you now. We don't want our kids continuing to go to jail because they don't have jobs," said Seymore.
But some pro-union activists say Walmart should be welcome only if it agrees to certain wage and benefit concessions.
"Yes, we need jobs. But we don't want Walmart to come in and just pay someone the minimum wage. We want a livable wage for employees, and I don't think that's wrong," said Kathleen Parker of the Kentucky Alliance.
Walmart says it pays its Kentucky workers an average of $13 an hour plus benefits.
And supporters say they don't want negotiations to be hampered by the demands of what they claim is a small group of activists.
"We have no jobs here right now. So if Walmart is willing to come here, then we can negotiate later. But right now the main thing is to get Walmart here," said Seymore.
At this point, the mayor's office will only say negotiations with that major retailer are continuing. No word on when any announcement might come.