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Wal-Mart has always been a good neighbor

Over the last few weeks, media reports and letters to the editor have addressed the Wal-Mart location planned for the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Sugarloaf Parkway.

Wal-Mart has been a good community neighbor on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth since 1994, and we are committed to maintaining an open dialogue about our new store plans.

To that end, I would like to clarify a few facts about the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard at Sugarloaf Parkway proposal.

Wal-Mart has met, and in many cases exceeded, state and local guidelines, following all of the rules to build a store at this location.

The design brings a smaller footprint - 176,000 square feet as opposed to the typical 204,000 square feet - based on community input.

Wal-Mart is a committed and generous corporate neighbor. In keeping with our "store of the community" principles, we typically donate more than $20,000 annually in various types of grants per store.

I take pride knowing that during 2006, Wal-Mart stores in Georgia donated more than $14 million to the communities we serve - including donations to firefighters, educators and local charities - and the organizations that operate in Duluth will continue to benefit from an additional store.

During our most recent fiscal year, Wal-Mart collected more than $485.8 million in Georgia state sales taxes, and we paid more than $57.3 million in state and local taxes, improving lives in the communities we serve.

We have a first-class exterior and interior design that is created with contemporary features that will complement neighboring developments.

We are meeting or exceeding the guidelines for creation of this store. Wal-Mart will also install traffic lights for the main entrances at no cost to the city or county.

We are anxious to bring to Duluth a long list of benefits serving customers and our associates. What excites me most about opening this new location is that we will continue to help our customers save money so they can live better lives.

Wal-Mart provides a comprehensive selection of low-priced, quality merchandise. And we strive to improve every day.

The value to Duluth and the community is apparent, and we will work together with the community, Wal-Mart customers and Duluth constituents alike as we have during the last 15 years.

We look forward to continuing to serve Duluth as an affordable, convenient and valuable resource for our customers.

Steve Cauley is the market manager for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.