Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hoping for a groundswell “made-in-America” movement.
The world’s largest retailer hosted its first two-day summit Thursday bringing together retailers, suppliers and government officials that it hopes will build on the company’s recent commitment to drive more manufacturing in the U.S.
The event, which attracted representatives from 500 manufacturers, eight governors, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and officials from three dozen states, comes seven months after the Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter pledged that it planned to buy $50 billion more U.S.-made goods over the next decade. That’s the equivalent of just more than 10 percent of what Wal-Mart will sell at retail this year.
But Wal-Mart has said that if other merchants do the same, that would mean an additional $500 billion in American-made goods over the next decade.
The lineup for Thursday was impressive, and the campaign could serve to boost Wal-Mart’s image, constantly under attack by labor-backed groups who have criticized the retail behemoth as a destroyer of U.S. jobs, not a creator.
Wal-Mart’s CEO Mike Duke, Bill Simon, the company’s U.S.-division CEO and other executives joined other business leaders including Kevin Toomey, president and CEO of the Kayser-Roth Corp., and Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric Corp.