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Walmart courts U.S. suppliers

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — More than 500 suppliers flocked to Walmart stores last month to pitch their “made in the USA” products at the retail giant’s fourth annual Open Call event.

Guest speakers at the event included Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who lauded Walmart for helping to provide many jobs in the state, which enjoys a 3.4% unemployment rate. “Walmart’s continued commitment to growing U.S. manufacturing should be applauded,” Hutchinson said. “Strong manufacturing supports a strong America through the creation of American jobs.

“Walmart’s Open Call gives innovators unparalleled access to the world’s largest retailer.”

Walmart president and chief executive officer Doug McMillon also praised the innovation represented by the attendees, and spoke to the challenges facing American manufacturers. “We are also committed to participating as a leader in the country when it comes to policy,” McMillon said. “We believe that we should be one of the voices at the table, and we want to help renew U.S. manufacturing and drive the creation of manufacturing jobs across the United States.”

Now in its fourth year, Wal­mart’s Open Call is one way in which the company continues to invest in American jobs by accelerating the growth of U.S. manufacturing. This year’s event showcased American entrepreneurship and celebrated ingenuity and diversity. Nearly half of all businesses that attended Open Call self-identify as diverse, including 25% identifying as women-owned, according to Walmart.

“We are thrilled that entrepreneurs from across the country, including many diverse-owned businesses, continue to respond so strongly to the opportunity to participate in Walmart’s annual Open Call,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing. “While finding products our customers want is a year-round focus for our buying teams, Walmart’s annual Open Call is a special opportunity to connect our buyers with companies that are manufacturing products in the U.S. and to identify new and unique product solutions.”

Dan Bartlett, the company’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, said suppliers from 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were at the Open Call. The event is part of Walmart’s investment in communities and job growth through its 10 year $250 billion commitment to American manufacturing.

“We’ve come a long way; we certainly still have more work to do,” Marsiglio added. “We’ve seen firsthand that by supporting American jobs and American manufacturing, it’s great for our customers, it’s great for business and it’s really great for the communities that we serve.”

With some companies pitching multiple products, more than 750 meetings were scheduled for the event, according to the company, with Walmart buyers representing a broad range of product categories.

From secret sauces and pocket-size hair gel to photographic mouse pads and bowls designed to keep cereal crisp, this year’s group of innovative products represents a broad range of categories, including food and beverages, home decor, and apparel, Walmart noted. While some businesses are larger, many are “kitchen table” companies, vying for a chance to work with the world’s largest retailer and earn a place on the shelf.

“American entrepreneurship is on full display during Open Call,” Marsiglio said, adding that the event was a “fantastic show of innovation” and that investments in U.S. manufacturing are important to job growth and innovation.


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