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Wal-Mart in projects to make shoes, curtains, jars in U.S.

Customers shop at a Walmart Supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Customers shop at a Walmart Supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Elvina Nawaguna

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Thursday announced three new manufacturing projects by suppliers in the United States to produce footwear, curtains and glassware as part of a broader commitment to "buy American."

Bill Simon, Wal-Mart's U.S. president and CEO, made the announcement with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at SelectUSA, a two-day event designed to promote investment and job creation in the United States.

President Barack Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and other top officials will also speak at the SelectUSA conference.

Bentonville, Arkansas, based Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the world and with some 1.3 million employees in the United States, said the three projects would create 385 jobs.

"It takes a lot of entrepreneurship; it takes a lot of innovation; it takes a lot of conviction to make that decision to take that step to invest capitol here," said Simon.

Elan-Polo Inc. will start production of injection-molded footwear in March at a factory in Hazelhurst, Georgia. The company previously made the shoes overseas.

At the press conference Elan-Polo CEO Joe Russell cited "support and encouragement" from Wal-Mart, which it has been supplying with goods for 35 years.

EveryWare Global Inc. will produce canning jars for Wal-Mart at its Monaca, Pennsylvania, facility, establishing a new made in the U.S. product line.

And Louis Hornick and Co., a Wal-Mart supplier for four decades, will establish a new facility in Allendale County, South Carolina, to make window coverings and home textiles.

"Our next goal is to encourage other businesses just like these to step up to the plate," Pritzker said.

Thursday's announcement was part of Wal-Mart's pledge, announced in January to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over the next decade.

In August, the company held a "manufacturing summit" attended by more than 500 suppliers from 34 states clamoring to get a slice of the action.

Reuters reported in September that in advance of Wal-Mart's patriotic pledge, many of the company's long-time suppliers had already decided to produce in the United States as rising wages in China and elsewhere eroded the allure of offshore production.

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna, writing by Ros Krasny; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Andrew Hay)

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