More details are emerging about the situation involving the planned closure of a Kroger store in Newport, as well as additional businesses that are coming to Newport. The store, which has been in Newport for at least 40 years, and has employed over 40 employees—many of those full-time workers—informed the city and its workers Monday that they would close the doors at the end of August. Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission John Chadwell says the news came as a shock to residents.
“Kroger let the city know Monday morning that they would be closing the store here. By 1 o’clock that afternoon, they informed all of their employees. They stated that they would close the store in 30 days, so sometime around August 30, they plan to close the store here.”
Chadwell tells why Kroger has decided to close the Newport store.
“The corporate office said that they had been underperforming for several years. With increased competition in town, they had to decide whether to invest a significant amount of money in the store or to close it. They opted to close the store.”
In response to the news, the Newport Economic Development Commission has set up a job fair at the Kroger Store on Thursday, August 7. At this time, employees will meet with perspective employers about job opportunities in the break room of the Kroger store. Chadwell says some employees may be offered jobs at other Kroger stores in nearby towns, such as Jonesboro or Searcy. He says there is economic development that is taking place in Newport that could provide opportunities for those who are losing their jobs at the Kroger store.
“The old Wal-Mart building was purchased about two months ago by an investment group. They have secured tenants for the building already. They will have five stores in there and three have already committed,” said Chadwell. “They have Tractor Supply, Dollar Tree, and Goodwill that have all committed to be in that facility. They will be opening at various times, but later this year, they should all be open by the end of the year.”
He says there are other development opportunities coming to Newport as well,
“We’ve got several of our existing commercial business that are looking at new construction facilities and are in the final stages of that. If it all works, we could have five local businesses that could start construction on a building or facility in town. We have a couple more commercial and retail business prospects that are seriously looking at the area. In regards to the Kroger building, within less than 24 hours of the news, we had already referred it to the owner for companies that are interested in the building. There is a lot of interest in Newport.”
Chadwell says there is a group is making an effort to convince the Kroger Corporation to reverse their decision. They have been sharing the number for the corporate office where local citizens can call Kroger and ask for the store to be saved. A group Facebook page, Save Kroger, has also been started, but Chadwell believes that will do little to influence Kroger’s decision to save the store. More information on the upcoming job fair can be found by calling the Newport Economic Development Commission at 870-523-1009 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.