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Ord Recruiting New Retail Anchor

The rumor mill has been churning intensely for months but it is now official. Ord is a front runner in an effort to land a new retail anchor tenant: Shopko.

Since news broke last November that Alco would be closing all of their 198 stores in early 2015, including its 21 year-old facility in Ord, Valley County Economic Development (VCED) has charged forward in an effort to ensure that the retail gap resulting from Alco’s closure would be filled and the leakage of local dollars would be reduced.

shopkoIn early April of this year, after several months of aggressive and targeted recruitment, VCED hosted a site visit with a representative from Twin Cities-based Oppidan Development. Oppidan is a national property development firm based that serves as the development arm for many national companies, including Shopko. The company has successfully developed 300+ projects valued at more than $1.75 billion and spanning 9.5 million-square feet throughout 27 states and parts of Canada.

The successful completion of the project requires several public and private sector pieces to fall into place. Most critical of these is Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a commonly used business development incentive. The TIF necessary for this project to be feasible received final approval on July 27th by the Ord City Council after two months of public meetings with the City of Ord’s Planning Commission, Community Development Agency, and Ord City Council. The next step necessary for shovels to be in the ground is that of final approval from Shopko’s corporate office. As of now, VCED has every reason to believe Shopko will sign off for the developer to begin turning dirt in mid-September, meaning the new business could open its doors as early as next spring.

The greatest challenge in recruiting a replacement for Alco was not economic development readiness in Ord. Rather, it was the fact that, unavoidably, any new business comparable to Alco would compete with our existing retail sector in some shape or form. However, the negative economic impact of Alco’s closure was noticeable immediately following the shutting of their doors. Following the closure, local spending dropped by nearly 8.5% over the previous year and reached the lowest level seen since March of 2012.

This drop in spending was experienced by other local businesses as the loss of a major retail anchor like Alco results in the rapid leakage of dollars from our community. When residents travel to communities like Grand Island to purchase good not available locally, for example, they are tempted to purchase goods and services that are in fact available locally, such as sporting goods, pharmaceuticals, fuel, and so on. This causes negative impact that effects the entire community and a leak that we cannot afford to let grow

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