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Wawa to Transform Closed Philadelphia Store Into Tech Hub

Retailer says space could become a ‘beacon’ for attracting talent, training workers
Wawa store
Photograph: Shutterstock

Wawa is planning to transform a shuttered convenience store into a training center for tech workers, Chris Gheysens, CEO of Wawa said during the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s recent economic outlook meeting, according to a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The location at 19th and Market Street in Philadelphia, which is in early stages of the transition, could be a space to train workers for employment with Wawa, but it also may welcome workers and students from other organizations as well, Gheysens told the newspaper.

“Our goal and hope is that it will become a little bit of a beacon at a prime real estate location,” he said. “That is a great location and hopefully a visible sign that tech is alive and well, and the ecosystem we create around it in Philly is alive and well and grows.”

The “tech hub,” as Gheysens called it, is part of a greater effort to invest in the region’s technology talent market, and Wawa builds its own customer-facing technology. The company dedicates about 30% of its overhead spending to technology and has faced a shortage of midlevel tech talent in the region, Gheysens told the paper.

The location shut its doors in the fall over “continued safety and security challenges and business factors,” the retailer said at the time. It is one of five Center City stores Wawa has closed since mid-2020. The company is working with a nonprofit partner that may be able to use one of the other closed locations that has a catering facility in its basement, he told the Inquirer.

He said the location “will not operate as a Wawa,” and the company is negotiating with the landlord on that space.

Wawa, Pennsylvania-based Wawa has more than 950 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C.

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