BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Just as lighthouses serve as a navigation aid to sailors, Walmart’s American Lighthouses initiative aims to help food and product manufacturers navigate barriers to production. The retailer shared details about the concept during its Open Call event for small businesses looking to pitch their products to Walmart executives.

Walmart’s American Lighthouses concept will focus on textiles; metals and motors; food processing; plastics; pharmaceutical and medical supplies. The goal is to unite key stakeholders in specific regions of the United States to identify and overcome top-down barriers to US production.

“To do this, we aim to bring together key regions and various stakeholders to address obstacles, support and pilot innovative projects and provide tools and resources for businesses to invest in US production, making the supply chain more efficient, sustainable and making it easier for US manufacturing to flourish,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president, customer and business development and US manufacturing for global sourcing at Walmart.

Phillips said Open Call supports Walmart's commitment to US manufacturing and small businesses. Walmart announced in March a spend of an additional $350 billion on items made, grown or assembled in the United States over the next 10 years. The American Lighthouses project strives to accelerate this commitment.

Open Call 2021 drew more than 900 small businesses, the largest cohort so far to participate in the event, from across the United States to pitch their products. Of those businesses, 167 products are advancing to the next stage in the process to land a deal with Walmart or Sam’s Club and another 705 are receiving further consideration. All businesses that took part in Open Call are eligible to sell their shelf-stable products on, Walmart Marketplace or

Jay Leno kicked of the Open Call general session, which was hosted by Tony Waller, vice president constituent relations and racial equity – Walmart US. Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer – Walmart Inc., and John Furner, president and CEO – Walmart US, also spoke to the business owners.

Walmart estimates the retailer’s commitment will support the creation of more than 750,000 new jobs and will help avoid 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by sourcing closer to customers.