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Wal-Mart to open Wednesday

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
A Walmart employee spruces up the parking lot, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in preparation of the new Walmart store Grand Opening in Atwater's Applegate Shopping Center on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 morning.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG A Walmart employee spruces up the parking lot, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in preparation of the new Walmart store Grand Opening in Atwater's Applegate Shopping Center on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 morning. Merced Sun-Star

ATWATER -- The new Wal-Mart Supercenter at 800 Commerce Ave. is opening its doors to customers for the first time today.

Construction on the 124,500-square-foot store started in June and was designed to include several environmentally friendly features, including skylights, low-flow faucets and toilets, energy-efficient LED lights and floors made with recycled materials.

About 280 people were hired to work at the store, which sits next to a Super Target in the Applegate Shopping Center. The average hourly wage for Wal-Mart's full-time employees in California is $13.10 an hour.

A Subway restaurant has been added to the building, which Wal-Mart moved into Feb. 7, said Tiffany Moffatt, regional director of media relations for Wal-Mart.

The new store is expected to generate an estimated $300,000 a year in sales tax, said interim City Manager Stan Feathers.

"We're excited about the jobs and pleased with the additional property taxes and sales taxes," he said. "The council has been extremely supportive of this project."

Feathers sees the relationship between Wal-Mart and the city as "long-term."

During today's grand opening, Wal-Mart officials plan to present several grants to various groups, including The Atwater Police Activities League, Atwater High School and the Castle Challenger Learning Center.

In addition to helping fund local organizations, Wal-Mart officials also expect the new store to greatly improve the local economy. Fiscal year 2010 sales total $405 billion for the retail giant.

Wal-Mart will be open at 8 a.m. today. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsun-star.com.

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