H-SANTA MARIA

Jun 12, 2013 7:31 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

City officials hope new Walmart store helps boost local economy

Santa Maria city leaders hope the opening of a new grocery store will be a boost to the local economy.

They were part of a crowd of 300 people on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Blosser Road.

85 people have been hired to work there.

The city has a 12% unemployment rate and city officials hope the new store can help attract more businesses.

It was opening day at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market and the first day on the job for dozens of eager employees.

"I was like, oh my, yes, I'm coming," said Walmart employee Bertha Lerma.

Lerma says she was looking for a new job when Walmart called.

She moved here from Los Angeles because she says the city offers more opportunity

"Because of my kids, I want them to have a safer place where they can ride their bikes be outdoors more," said Lerma.

But these opportunities have been fewer in recent years.

"We've had a number of tough years with the recession," said Santa Maria City Manager, Rick Haydon.

Haydon says new businesses have been popping up all over the community the past year, including the movie theatre still under construction.

"Since then, over the last couple of years, we've had more development in the city and commercial development right now," said Haydon.

With more businesses opening in Santa Maria, it means more tax revenue for the city.

"We estimate probably around 4 million dollars in additional Measure U sales tax proceeds going forward the next fiscal year," said Haydon.

While there are gains, Haydon says the city still needs a lot more jobs

"At 12 percent, we still exceed the state, county and federal unemployment rate," said Haydon.

He says new business brings more jobs and at checkout number 3, Lerma is happy to greet them.

Walmart also presented several checks for about $10,000 to local community groups.

They included one for $2,000 to the Santa Barbara County Food Bank.

This is the second Walmart grocery store to open in Santa Maria in the past year.

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