Wal-Mart announced today (5 April) that it will build 50-plus stores in rundown areas in a nationwide move the retail giant has called the “Wal-Mart jobs and opportunity zones” initiative.

CEO Lee Scott said that, over the next two years, Wal-Mart will build outlets in neighbourhoods with high crime or unemployment rates, on sites that are environmentally contaminated, or in vacant buildings or malls in need of revitalisation.

These new stores are expected to create between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs, many of which will be in minority communities, and generate more than US$100m in state and local tax revenue for these communities, the company said.

“Wal-Mart has never been afraid to invest in communities that are overlooked by other retailers. Where those businesses see difficulty, we see opportunity. That is who Wal-Mart has always been, and that is who we remain today,” Scott said. “This is a commitment to reach beyond our stores, to further engage the community, and to offer an even greater economic boost to people and neighbourhoods that need Wal-Mart the most.”