Walmart, expected open in January, a 'big deal' for Ogallala

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Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 12:00 am

Ogallala is getting a Walmart.

City officials say the news opens the town up to an influx of opportunities for growth and development.

“This is a big deal for us,” said City Manager Aaron Smith. “The economic development aspect is huge — there's no doubt about it. The store will also provide a service to this community I think a lot of folks want.”

According to Smith, Walmart executives paid for a building permit Wednesday, allowing them to proceed with construction. Excavation equipment was already on scene by Thursday.

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The store will be built west of Wendy's restaurant — southwest of the Interstate 80 and Highway 61 intersection. It's a location that has been considered before.

“Walmart had intended to put a store there in 2008, but that's when the recession hit,” Smith said. “Walmart pulled back the reins a bit, not just here, but all over the country. Because they didn't move forward with the property, they sold it back to the Ogallala Community Redevelopment Authority.”

He said Walmart contacted city officials again about a year ago with renewed interest. Tax increment financing sealed the deal by funding water, sewer and street improvements. It will also be used to develop a storm water runoff area.

“If it weren't for us agreeing to TIF, Walmart would not have been an option for us,” Smith said.

He said the store will be considered a supercenter, just a scaled-down version. Instead of the typical 180,000 square feet of most supercenters, it will be about 70,000 square feet.

According to Smith, it won't have an automotive shop or optometrist, but it will have a photo center, deli, pharmacy and groceries, in addition to general merchandise.

The store is expected to create a total of 200 new full- and part-time jobs in Ogallala — not counting the temporary jobs that will result from construction.

“It will also mean the potential for the businesses of Nebraska suppliers to grow,” Smith said. “But, most importantly, it will increase sales tax dollars for us. That's crucial for a small community.”

He anticipated Ogallala's trade area would grow because of the Walmart — pulling in more shoppers from surrounding rural counties, as well as those from Julesburg, Colo., and possibly even Holyoke, Colo.

“This also addresses retail leakage for the city of Ogallala,” Smith said. “A lot of our residents go to North Platte to shop at Walmart. By having our own store, we will be able to keep those people here and capture those dollars that would otherwise leave.”

The plan is to open the store in January.

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