What are some of the considerations that should be made in preparation for a large company like Wal-Mart to locate in a small to mid size town? By the company? By the community members?
The first thing the company needs to do is to make sure that the community it's moving into will be a good market. It has to ensure that the community has the right sort of demographics to provide a good customer base. I agree with Post #3 that traffic issues are the main thing that the community has to think about.
The corporation needs to consider location, possible competition, available workforce, need in the community, traffic and transportation considerations and costs in the area. We think of Walmarts as identical when the reality is that each store is carefully planned to meet the specific needs of the location by what they sell and where they place the store, etc.
The community needs to consider if the addition of a place like Walmart is going to be a boon or a bust. Can the towns other businesses survive the competition? Is the town large enough to "need" a Walmart? Will it create more jobs than it will take? How will Walmart add to the needs of the community? How will Walmart change the community in economic and social terms?
Obviously, the company would have to prepare by securing and training a sizeable workforce, as well as beginning to form relationships with people in the community, partially due to the reasons laid out in the previous response. The community needs to be prepared for the potential impact Wal-Mart has. In a small town I used to live in, the opening of a Super Wal-Mart was followed pretty rapidly by the migration of businesses, both local and chains, to the vicinity of the Wal-Mart. That is something community leaders need to prepare for. Traffic patterns are also an issue for Wal-Mart.
A business like Wal-Mart is going to put a lot of small businesses out of business. They just can't compete with a mass retailer in terms of price. The way businesses like Wal-Mart try to compensate for that is by contributing to local charities and organizations. Many such businesses will post some kind of notice in their foyers showing how much they have contributed to local organizations.