Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness Hosts Walmart Executives at Economic Development and Job Creation Council Meeting

See photo caption, below.

See photo caption, below.

DATE:  July, 10, 2013
CONTACT: Lahoma Scarlette, Community Affairs Director
Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, District 9
PHONE: (954) 357-7009

Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness hosted his monthly District 9 Economic Development and Job Creation Council on Monday. The meeting featured corporate executives from Walmart as the special guests. Over 25 community and business leaders listened as Michelle Azelle Belaire, Walmart director of public affairs and government relations, in Doral and Jonathan Nimrod, director of supplier diversity, from Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Ark., spoke about economic opportunities associated with Walmart stores. Both speakers noted job creation, affordable and discounted products and corporate giving among the many benefits that Walmart brings to a community.

Walmart is considering using the 36 acres of vacant land on the south corner of Broward Boulevard and 27th Avenue as the proposed site for Riverbend Marketplace with a Walmart Supercenter serving as the anchor store. The project needs the Broward County Commission to redesignate the property from medium-high residential to commercial in order to move forward.

Among those present at the meeting were Frank Gatlin, founder and CEO of Gatlin Development Company, Inc. (GDC), now headquartered in Fort Lauderdale. GDC will build Riverbend Marketplace and Gatlin has pledged to retain local small and minority sub-contractors in developing the project. Also in attendance was Brian Johnson, executive director of Broward County Minority Builders Coalition; Joe Toliver, vice president of community relations, Urban League of Broward County; Bobby Henry, Sr., publisher of the Westside Gazette; and Burnadette Norris-Weeks, community activist and attorney.

“Not only am I looking for jobs that offer hourly wages, I want to ensure that there are opportunities for minority professionals, such as attorneys, accountants and public relations firms to be hired as well. I would also like to see Walmart advertise in locally owned black newspapers and radio stations. We shop there already, and if minority consumers stopped spending their money at Walmart, there would be a serious loss in revenue for the company. Unless Walmart is willing to step up to the plate, I will not support the project,” said Commissioner Holness.

The District 9 Economic Development and Job Creation Council was created by Commissioner Holness in 2010 and includes executives who work to ensure that doors are open to all when it comes to economic opportunities in Broward County. Past guests have included executives from FPL, Odebrecht USA and Broward Health. The Council meets the second Monday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., in Fort Lauderdale.
For more information on economic development opportunities and Broward County services, visit

Photo Caption: Michelle Azelle Belaire, Walmart director of public affairs and government relations, speaks at the District 9 Economic Development and Job Creation Council hosted monthly by Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness
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