Walgreen Co. has unveiled a major investment plan for Chicago in which it will remodel many of its 142 drug stores in the city, quadruple its number of "food oasis" stores there and expand its downtown office space, providing an estimated 600 new jobs.


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Retail News Breaks

Walgreens makes a 'hometown' investment

June 29th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has unveiled a major investment plan for Chicago in which it will remodel many of its 142 drug stores in the city, quadruple its number of "food oasis" stores there and expand its downtown office space, providing an estimated 600 new jobs.

Under the Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative, announced Wednesday in tandem with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Walgreens said it expects to create about 300 new jobs in the city via new store openings and store remodels, including the planned expansion of its 11 food oasis stores to nearly 50 during the next two years.

The food oasis locations offer a bigger selection of groceries and fresh food in so-called "food desert" communities, which have a dearth of supermarkets.

Another 300 new jobs are slated to stem from Walgreens' expansion of its downtown office space for e-commerce, information technology and related areas, some of which have been located in the Sullivan Center since March 2010. The company noted that the space addition comes soon after its completion of the drugstore.com acquisition early this month, which augmented the Deerfield, Ill.-based drug chain's online operations.

Plans call for Walgreens to grow its number of food oasis stores in Chicago from 11 to nearly 50 over the next two years.

"Walgreens is proud of our historic roots in Chicago and pleased to take our presence in the city to a new level by bringing more jobs and contributing to the prosperity and quality of life here," Greg Wasson, president and chief executive officer of Walgreens, said in a statement. "We already employ more than 4,500 people in the city, and the additional jobs we plan to bring here will position us to serve community needs in new and better ways.

"Our expanded investment in Walgreens hometown demonstrates the optimism we've had for Chicago since Charles R. Walgreen Sr. opened his first store here in 1901 at the corner of Cottage Grove and Bowen avenues," Wasson added. "By bringing more jobs to the city, expanding commerce and providing healthy living choices to residents across the city, we strive to make Chicago an even better place in which to live well."

Last August, Walgreens opened 10 food oasis stores on Chicago's South and West Sides. The redesigned locations included more than 750 new food items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen meat and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs, whole grain cereal and other healthy meal components. The company said Wednesday it aims to double the number of food oasis stores in the city by 2012 and then double that number again in 2013 to reach a total of nearly 50.

Meanwhile, the drug chain said it expects to open at least five more stores in Chicago over the next two years while remodeling many of its other stores in the city.

"This dual investment by Walgreens will have a profound effect on the city of Chicago," Emanuel stated. "The 600 new jobs will have a strong impact on our economy, and the nearly 40 new food oasis stores will allow many of our residents to get healthy food for their families. This is an example of a corporation that is committed to both the city of Chicago and its mission."

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