Our firm was retained by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to develop a Professional Opinion on a report entitled The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An interim-evaluation of one Chicago neighborhood’s experience by the Center for Urban Research and Learning of Loyola University Chicago (the Loyola report). The MG Opinion is organized into two key sections: 1) a review of the Loyola report and 2) a preliminary assessment of alternative data, methods, and analysis that, moving forward, might inform the important question of Wal-Mart’s potential impacts – whether positive, negative, or neutral – on the local business, economic development, and community development climate in Chicago and particularly in the Austin neighborhood. The Loyola report concludes that the Chicago Wal-Mart has already negatively impacted the local economic and business climate around the store. Based on our review of Loyola’s analysis and our own cursory data work, we found that the Loyola study is flawed and that there is no clear-cut evidence of any Wal-Mart impact either way. We emphasize that we are neither “pro” nor “anti” Wal-Mart but, rather, a neutral third-party research firm committed to unbiased and truthful data, methods, analysis and reporting.

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