“The beauty of the private sector is that we don’t have to win an election, convince Congress, or pass a bill to do what we think is right. We can simply move forward…doing what we know how to do…growing our business.” In a keynote speech at Retail’s BIG Show this morning, President and CEO of Walmart’s U.S. operations, Bill Simon, generated a lot of buzz. The session was titled, “A Job to Do: Retail’s Role in an American Renewal,” and his speech clearly painted a picture of how his company plans to lead in this renewal.
Early in his speech, Simon made it pretty clear that renewal was only possible with job creation, saying “At the heart of our national conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy…fixing this problem will take all of us doing our part – business, government, labor, nonprofits and private citizens. And the retail industry has to lead.”
Simon also made a big announcement from the show that impacts our military men and women. “Beginning Memorial Day, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty. We project that Walmart will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years,” Simon said. According to NRF’s President and CEO, Matthew Shay, Simon’s commitment to veterans was, “nothing less than visionary for a great American company to make such a bold pledge to help our American heroes.”
Next, he challenged retailers to help with another opportunity: To create more American jobs by supporting more American manufacturing. He committed in the speech that, “Walmart will buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next ten years by increasing what we already buy here and by helping to on-shore U.S. production in high potential areas.”
Retail’s BIG Show is a great place to network and learn about advances in retail. But as Simon noted, it’s also a great place to make announcements that can have a lasting, positive impact on consumers in the communities where they live and work. And that is what an American renewal is all about. View Simon’s full remarks below.