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Walmart Inc. has invited about 850 entrepreneurs out of more than 4,800 who applied to pitch their products to the retailer at its virtual Open Call event Oct. 1.

Walmart said Friday that it received 44% more applications than last year. Submissions came from small and medium-sized businesses in 49 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique.

This is the Bentonville-based retailer's seventh annual Open Call, but because of the pandemic, it's the first to be held virtually. Participants will still have the usual 30-minute one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart buyers.

Businesses taking part could get deals that range from supplying a few local stores to hundreds of stores and Sam's Clubs. They may also be selected to sell their products on Walmart.com or its third-party online marketplace.

Walmart began holding the event in 2014 after announcing its commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023. Open Call is part of that commitment, the company said.

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