Is Shopko Hometown possibly opening a store in Neligh? According to officials, a large retailer remains "very interested in Neligh's market."
Although Shopko Hometown was not mentioned by name, a large retailer was cited Monday night during the Re-Development Authority board meeting as still looking at expanding into Neligh.
“They are still very interested in this market and are currently exploring several viable land options in Neligh,” said Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek.
Ptacek said in June that he had been working with “a large retailer” for several months who was very interested in expanding to Antelope County. Ptacek said he could not name the retailer due to a confidentiality agreement.
However, Hilltop Drugs Etc. owners Jami Schmidt and Koryn Koinzan told the Re-Development Authority a few days later that a Shopko Hometown representative inquired about their “exit strategy and selling our business” due to plans to open a location in Neligh in 2016.
Ryan Koinzan, who at the time was vice chairman of the board, also confirmed Shopko as the retailer in question when he stated that he has “no desire to offer Shopko TIF financing. That’s a deal breaker; it’s not worth having that conversation.”
Ptacek said Monday that a real estate representative with a large retailer has now inquired about TIF. No other discussion took place on TIF or Project Sole.
Koinzan was not present at the meeting and has verbally resigned from the board. Members said they would begin a search for his replacement via local media.
According to its website, Shopko Hometown locations are a smaller concept store developed to meet the needs of smaller communities. There are 179 Shokpo Hometown locations, including one in O'Neill.
Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC is a $3 billion retailer that operates over 323 stores in 21 states throughout the Midwest, Mountain, North Central and Pacific Northwest regions.
According to the State Department of Economic Development, over $17.6 million leaves Antelope County annually in categories that Shopko Hometown has market in.
“If you can stop even a third of that leakage, that’s going to trickle down to other retail businesses and help stop other leaks,” Ptacek said in a June interview. “The job potential is great, but that’s not the only factor. Keeping that money in Antelope County - in Neligh - is huge.”
Shopko Hometown offers many items that are not currently available in Neligh, such as small appliances, electronics and name-brand athletic shoes, just to name a few items.
Not every Shopko Hometown offers the same services, though. Some have pharmacies and optical services while others do not. The services and items appear to depend on the needs of the community.