"I believe strongly that this is a good thing for the community," said Wal-Mart's Northwest Community Affairs Manager, Eric Berger. "It will bring 475 jobs to the community, three-fourths of them being full time (36 or more hours) and 78 percent of them eligible for benefits. And there's a lot of room for career growth."
The average Utah Wal-Mart wage, he explained, was $9.87 hourly.
Berger said that contrary to the forecasted failure of many nearby businesses by Wal-Mart foes, Wal-Mart's experience is that their stores tend to boost local business revenues.
"Time and time again," Berger said, "we see that Wal-Mart stores can bring in the people and keep them in town. They're a central point, and few others can bring in that kind of traffic."
Increased traffic, he explained, means more shoppers, and therefore more shopping at nearby businesses.
"A few businesses have adapted and created their own niche," he said of businesses that cater to Wal-Mart shoppers.
Since the Wal-Mart announcement, inquires into nearby open spaces have increased dramatically. Restaurants frequently follow Wal-Mart, hooking hungry shoppers, especially during the holiday season.
Berger said that many of the charges leveled by anti-Wal-Mart activists during the public comment session were unfounded.
"We wanted to clear up some of those facts," he said. "Some folks have different facts than we have." But with the last meeting passing the 11 p.m. hour, he said that Wal-Mart chose, instead, to address such concerns at the next meeting, scheduled for April 28.
The city anticipates Wal-Mart will take about an hour for its presentation. No public comment will be taken at the meeting, although the planning commission will continue to take comments on Wal-Mart's applications until the end of the business day April 27.
It is estimated that no action on the Wal-Mart proposal will take place at the April 28 meeting. If small numbers show at that meeting, the following meeting will take place again at City Hall.
Berger remains confident that Wal-Mart will benefit Centerville and the surrounding community.
"Last year," he said, "we gave $684,776 to (Utah) community charities, and over the past four years we've given over $2.5 million. And we are plugged into the community. We allow local stores to pick the charities."