Walmart continues to shower D.C. with donations as it looks to looks break into the market and open several stores, and the latest gift – a $3 million grant for job training -- impressed local leaders.
D.C. Chamber of Commerce president Barbara Lang almost had a Vice President Biden moment when she walked up to the podium to announce the grant.
"This is a really big – but I won’t say exactly what – deal," joked Lang.
The deal includes grants for local non-profits and more than more than a million dollars for the city’s community college to start up a 'retail academy' so individuals can learn the ins and outs of the industry.
Alex Barron, Walmart's regional general manager, says he's seen first-hand the need for this type of program.
"Folks would come and not know how to interview or not know how to dress for an interview," says Barron. "So it’s out of the need to train these folks -- and some of them will eventually work for us -- to learn how to operate in a retail environment."
As the city and the retailer negotiate plans to open 4 or 5 stores, Walmart continues to make sizable donations to the city. Last week, it was a $100,000 grant to cleanup the Anacostia River.
Anti-Walmart activists such as Dyana Forester question the motivation behind these charitable acts.
"I think today shows how Walmart is buying off D.C. bit by bit, and trying to not sign a legally binding document," says Forester.
Mayor Vincent Gray says a community benefits package with Walmart is in the works but wouldn’t disclose any details.