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Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT - Analyst Report) along with nearly 500 suppliers and 1500 government officials came forward at the U.S. Manufacturing Summit to discuss opportunities to accelerate manufacturing and employment opportunities in the country. Together, they are expected to invest more than $70 million for factory growth and creation of more than 1,000 domestic jobs.
During the summit, suppliers and manufacturers discussed opportunities to create jobs, restore communities and drive economic growth. Governors and state officials also had the opportunity to communicate with local manufacturers who are more than willing to create jobs in their communities. The suppliers also had an opportunity to talk about potential projects and know about the resources available in different states.
By bringing together both the public and private sectors in the summit, Walmart helped create innovative solutions to make production in the U.S. affordable. Some of the companies including General Electric Co. (GE - Analyst Report) have joined forces with Walmart to augment domestic manufacturing operations. GE is creating 150 jobs for the production of GE Energy Efficient Soft White bulbs that will be sold at 3,400 Walmart stores by summer 2014.
In addition, Kayser-Roth Corporation’s No nonsense legwear brand will add more than 100 new jobs at Kayser-Roth and additional jobs in local industries in North Carolina. The brand will also invest in its existing production facilities in the region. Another N.C.-based legwear company Renfro also intends to expand its capacities over the next two years in Tennessee and Alabama and create an additional 195 manufacturing jobs.
Element Electronics Corp. plans to open a new flat screen TV factory in Winnsboro, S.C. in Dec 2013, which will target up to 500 jobs.
Greek Yogurt maker, Chobani invested $450 million to open the largest yogurt manufacturing facility in the world in Idaho last December and employs more than 1,000 people.
Hampton Products International recently invested $5 million in its Shell Lake, Wis., facility to begin production of Wright Products’ screen and storm door hardware. The company plans additional capital investments in 2014 and expects to add 150 jobs.
Of late, the U.S and some international markets have been witnessing a challenging retail/sales environment. Consumers have become more conscious about their spending habits and avoid any unnecessary expenses. The restrained consumer spending environment in the U.S. emanated from weak pay and a tepid rate of hiring. Besides this, the recent hike in payroll taxes and higher gas prices have curbed consumer spending, which led to lackluster sales. Lower and middle income consumers have also had to bear the brunt of higher payroll taxes, which increased 2 percentage points since Jan 2013.
This initiative shows Walmart’s dedication to find innovative solutions to fix unemployment issues utilizing its leadership position. Being the largest private employer in the U.S., Walmart took an initiative in late-Jan 2013 to contribute to the revitalization of the sluggish U.S. economy and intends to spend $50 billion in the next 10 years to buy more American merchandise.
Walmart currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, stocks in the retail supermarket industry, which are attractive for investment include SuperValu Inc (SVU - Analyst Report) and Etablissements Delhaize Fr (DEG - Snapshot Report), both of them carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).