PULLMAN —When Wal-Mart opens its newest South Side store in September it will do so with Urban Partnership Bank as a tenant.
The bank announced Thursday it would open its ninth Chicago branch at the store. The bank, which also has locations in Chatham and Grand Crossing, has 11 branches.
"We are preparing to open a brand new bank branch in a community region where access to responsible and affordable financial services is too often limited," William Farrow, president and CEO of the bank, said at a Thursday news conference. "We would not be here today without the strong support of Ald. Anthony Beale and Wal-Mart. We're proud to participate in the continuing revitalization of Chicago's historic Pullman and Roseland communities."
The bank was chosen over other banks including U.S. Bank, which has had a Pullman branch adjacent to the Wal-Mart site for years.
Karisa Sprague, regional vice president for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said Urban Partnership Bank has proven itself to be a quality lender to small businesses and local residents.
"We aim to be a store of the community and Urban Partnership Bank helps us meet those goals," she said
The 148,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store will anchor the 11.5 acre development at the 111th Street exit of the Bishop Ford Expressway. It will include other retail stores, a park and affordable housing, said Beale (9th).
"I don't care what people say, Wal-Mart is a good business that cares about the communities where it has a presence," Beale said. "Without Wal-Mart this project would never have gotten off the ground. Every other retailer turned us down but not Wal-Mart.
"There is a huge foreclosure problem in Roseland and a huge unemployment problem. But with the 400 new jobs Wal-Mart is creating that could change."
Jobs are a big issue in Pullman, and Darryl Bowles, manager of the Pullman Wal-Mart, said he encourages local residents to go online and apply.
"We are still hiring for a variety of positions. I strongly encourage residents to apply because because we definitely need to hire more people," Bowles said.
The new Wal-Mart store is set to open in mid-September and will offer customers a full-service grocery complete with fresh vegetables and meats, Sprague said. The Urban Partnership Bank branch inside the store will be open seven days a week, officials said.
"This community will no longer be a food desert. Residents will be able to buy their groceries and a whole lot more and won't have to leave their community to do so," Sprague added.