Wal-Mart is coming

Wal-Mart is coming by David Lias Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced its intentions Monday to construct a retail center in Vermillion.

Plans, including site selection and engineering studies, are in progress, according to a press release from Wal-Mart's home office in Bentonville, AK.

"We're excited and extremely pleased that they announced they are going to locate in Vermillion, and now we will do everything we can to work with them as they finalize their plans and begin to put together what that final Wal-Mart facility will look like for Vermillion," Mayor Roger Kozak said.

No estimated completion dates are available as details are still in the early stages and will be fully contingent upon a six-month feasibility period.

The prepared statement noted that Wal-Mart officials are looking forward to a partnership with the Vermillion community and are pleased with local responses to date.

"With our current population mix and the vibrant business climate that is present in Vermillion today, this addition to our business community will further enhance purchasing options available to all area residents and will also provide for additional employment opportunities for residents of Vermillion and the surrounding region," Kozak said.

He said it has been a pleasure, in his capacity as mayor, to work with Wal-Mart officials.

Wal-Mart's plan for growth

"We're anticipating their corporate team to put together plans in the very near future so that we can better understand the size of the facility," he said, "and the scope of the products and services to be offered, because all of that, at this point, is still unidentified."

By officially announcing its intent to locate a retail center here, Wal-Mart "now has a lot of work to do," Kozak said. "They have already studied the demographics, but I think they want to define those demographics a little bit further so that they do position a facility in Vermillion that really will better serve the area as far as enhancing the consumers' opportunities and of course they want to strengthen Wal-Mart's position in the region."

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced the continuation of its aggressive unit growth for the fiscal year beginning Feb. 1.

Domestically, the Wal-Mart division plans to open approximately 50 to 55 new discount stores and 220 to 230 new Supercenters. Relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for approximately 140 of the Supercenters, while the remainder will be built in new locations.

The company will further expand its Neighborhood Market concept by adding approximately 25 to 30 new units in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Sam's Club division will open 35 to 40 domestic clubs, approximately 20 of which will be relocations or expansions of existing clubs.

Plans being developed

Kozak said it's too early to know exactly what Wal-Mart has planned for Vermillion. Store blueprints haven't yet been formally approved. He noted that the company is interested in locating in the north part of Vermillion.

The six-month feasibility period mentioned in Wal-Mart's official press release will give the company time to take appropriate soil tests once a site is chosen.

The mayor noted that the city of Vermillion has always taken a progressive approach in its attempts to build its retail base and attract new business and industry.

"The city of Vermillion has reached out to all businesses that ever have exppressed an interest in the city," he said. "It is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company to work with any and all businesses who have an interest in the city of Vermillion."

A large step forward

He acknowledged that the arrival of a Wal-Mart is often met with opposition in communities across the country. Kozak, however, believes the retail giant will be a progressive addition to Vermillion and The University of South Dakota.

This potential economic impact awaiting Vermillion, he believes, is almost impossible to put into terms of dollars and cents and opportunity.

"In my opinion, it doesn't stop with Wal-Mart," Kozak said, "because normally they bring in two or three other related businesses. We are one step closer to re-energizing the entire retail environment. This will bring another component of shoppers to Vermillion."

He said that will, in turn, benefit existing retailers in Vermillion who offer products and services that may not be found at Wal-Mart.

"The mushrooming effect, the potential that's unleashed in the community, is almost indescribable," Kozak said. "That's what we must focus on � how we grow and how we nurture the entire business community in relation to the diversity that we add to the business environment."

For more information, contact John Bisio at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Community Affairs Department at 1-479-204-8229.

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