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New Wal-Mart Brings Economic Infusion to Avon Park


Supercenter offers hometown jobs, convenient shopping and other benefits

AVON PARK, Fla., Aug.12 2008 – The new Wal-Mart Supercenter opening Wednesday in Avon Park brings much-awaited one-stop shopping convenience to the community while providing jobs to approximately 350 area residents. The store, located at 1041 U.S. Highway 27 N., will hold a grand-opening ceremony at 7:30 a.m. and open its doors to customers at 8 a.m.

Local leaders are excited about the store’s economic impact. “The new Wal-Mart Supercenter provides much-needed employment opportunities for area residents and creates an infusion of additional payroll dollars into the local economy. We expect that Wal-Mart’s presence will also attract other businesses to our community, which will create even more job opportunities for our citizens,” said Sharon Schuler, mayor of Avon Park. “Having our own Wal-Mart in Avon Park is a boon to our residents, who, absent a public transportation system and with ever rising transportation costs, will find it much easier to take care of their shopping needs.”

Wal-Mart plans to employ approximately 350 associates, most of whom will work full-time, according to Store Manager Brian Lemelin. Eighty associates have chosen to transfer to the new store from existing Wal-Mart locations.

“Working for Wal-Mart provides a number of job opportunities and choices for so many people, from seniors looking for supplemental income to young people just starting their work experience,” Lemelin said. After retiring from the Air Force, Lemelin joined Wal-Mart in 1999 as an assistant manager working nights at a store in Greenville, S.C.

One-Stop Shopping Convenience for the Entire Family
Wal-Mart designed the new 190,000-square-foot Supercenter as a convenient one-stop family shopping destination with a full line of groceries, more than 30 merchandise departments and a variety of time-saving services. Its location on Highway 27 is within walking distance for much of the community, and the store’s wide aisles and low-profile displays will enhance the shopping experience for customers.

Shoppers will enjoy the store’s home furnishings department, which features products from Wal-Mart’s new Canopy™ brand, a line of durable, affordable furniture and home accessories. The home furnishings department organizes its products by room and features visible signage and displays showing how the products coordinate in a given room. The store’s lawn and garden center has a drive-through loading area for customers picking up plants, stone, mulch and other landscaping supplies.

The Supercenter’s energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste. The store’s skylights harvest daylight and reduce the amount of energy required to light the store by up to 75 percent daily. LED lighting throughout the store operates 70 percent more efficiently than traditional fluorescent lighting. Part of the cement used in the concrete flooring is made with recycled materials and the floor’s finish reduces the need for chemical cleaners.

Community Involvement Begins with Grand Opening Grants
Wal-Mart is celebrating the grand opening of the store by contributing $18,000 in grants to several local organizations. That support includes $8,000 to the City of Avon Park to update equipment in its police department and refurbish playing fields and purchase equipment for its parks and recreation department. The Boys and Girls Club of Highlands County received a $5,000 grant to assist with Project Learn, its after-school tutoring program. Avon Park High School received a $2,500 grant to upgrade classroom technology, and the First Assembly of God Church received a $2,500 grant to continue its English as a Second Language classes.

“We realize that financial support to local organizations helps make a real difference in the community,” said Lemelin. “We are thrilled to provide these grants as part of our grand-opening celebration. We will continue to play a leadership role in supporting the needs of Avon Park and neighboring communities.”

Ribbon-cutting Celebration 7:30 a.m., Aug. 13
Community and business leaders will join Wal-Mart associates for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, and doors to the new store will open at 8 a.m. Rev. John Dumas, pastor of the First Assembly of God Church, will offer the invocation. Members of the Avon Park High School Junior ROTC unit will present the colors, and Rebecca Loikey will sing the national anthem. Mayor Shuler will help Lemelin cut the ribbon to the new store. Throughout the day, activities will include numerous product samples, character appearances and giveaways.


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