The day of deal-making and networking included 750 product presentations and an offer to participants to sell their items on Walmart.com - an opportunity to potentially reach millions of Walmart customers. Product ideas spanned a broad range of categories, including home decor, apparel, hardware, toys, health and beauty aids, sporting goods, and food. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said, "Walmart's continued commitment to growing U.S. manufacturing should be applauded. Strong manufacturing supports a strong America through the creation of American jobs. Walmart's Open Call gives innovators unparalleled access to the world's largest retailer."
Doug McMillon, president and CEO, welcomed attendees and praised their innovation. "We're excited to have you here," he said. "I just want to buy items all day. I would love to just walk up and down the hallway and say Yes!'"
McMillon recognized the challenges facing American manufacturing, signaling the company intends to pursue policy proposals to help create a favorable climate for job creation. "We are also committed to participating as a leader in the country when it comes to policy. We believe that we should be one of the voices at the table and we want to help renew U.S. manufacturing and drive the creation of manufacturing jobs across the United States," he said, adding that "soon we're going to be releasing a number of policy recommendations that support U.S. manufacturing."
The proposals under consideration would help simplify product labeling and encourage innovation in workforce development, such as apprenticeships. The company is also advocating for tax and trade policies that encourage domestic manufacturing. With a focus on products manufactured in the U.S., the fourth annual event attracted companies of all sizes and focus who are anxious to elevate production and reach more households.
"American entrepreneurship is on full display during Open Call," said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president, U.S. Manufacturing. "Today has been a fantastic show of innovation, and we are proud to extend an offer and digital shelf space on Walmart.com to today's participants." Marsiglio said investments in U.S. manufacturing are important to not only job growth but product innovation.
Marsiglio says the journey for dozens of the participants is far from over. Many will continue to have discussions with buyers and further develop their products for a chance to be on store shelves as well as online. However, nearly 100 companies won't have to wait, as they received deals on the spot including:
"We are very happy and excited to be part of the Walmart family," said Reginald Mosley, owner of Mississippi-based T< Tamales. "Five years ago, my mom read the book about Sam Walton and this is a dream come true." The 2017 Open Call event attracted participants from 47 states and Puerto Rico. Nearly half of the companies self-identify as diverse-owned, including 25 percent identifying as woman-owned. The event is part of Walmart's investment in communities and job growth through its 10 year $250 billion commitment to American manufacturing.
Source: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
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