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The Chicago Sun Times reports that Walgreen announced that it will add as many as a dozen new stores in the Windy City, and will remodel 39 others “in food deserts to feature fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The strategy will result in 600 new jobs, the company said.

According to the story, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson announced the “Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative” at a news conference at a Walgreens store at 8628 S. Cottage Grove, just a few blocks from the first Chicago Walgreens, which opened in 1901.

“The new mayor has made eradicating food deserts a priority and recently summoned major retailers to a private meeting where he showed them maps of shopping-starved areas and demanded to see their plans to build stores in those neighborhoods.

“Wasson was a participant and his company obviously got the message loud and clear.”

At the press conference, Wasson said, “It’s neat to be able to do good business while doing good. This is our opportunity to do just that. . . . Fortunately, we are in communities that are, maybe, under-served and don’t have convenient access to fresh food or even medical providers and medical care. We can leverage that footprint to expand our fresh food, as you’re seeing here. We can also leverage our pharmacists and nurse practitioners to be able to provide access to health care.”
KC's View:
These are just the early battles being fought by the likes of Walgreen and Walmart for the hearts and minds and stomachs of urban consumers. No surprise here, especially with Walmart planning a small-store Chicago strategy that could remake the city’s competitive landscape.