ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Another blow to Dougherty County's economy, Walmart won't build an East side store this year.
In a joint call to city and county leaders, Walmart announced it will delay construction for a year, which means it won't open until at least 2011.
At a time when jobs are being cut everyday, the creation of hundreds of jobs by Walmart was a bright light in a dim economy. "It certainly will improve the area, it will certainly be an economic boom to the city of Albany," said Ward 1 Commissioner Jon Howard.
But now, Walmart has scaled back its plans for construction, cutting some stores from its list altogether and delaying the construction of others, like the new East Albany store. "I guess the bad part about it is those 300+ jobs could certainly benefit the Dougherty County and Albany economy," said Howard.
While the announcement is frustrating, County Chairman Jeff Sinyard says Walmart is still committed to Albany. He said, "Obviously we were disappointed to hear that it was being postponed one year, at the same time, we were very happy that it had not been taken off their list."
Walmart plans to keep all permits up to date so that when the company is ready to build, it can proceed without any delays. "It's incredibly important to East Albany and Dougherty County to have those jobs and to have that kind of growth, particularly in an area that really deserves it, needs it," said Sinyard.
Construction was supposed to begin within the next couple of months and expected to last about a year. The plans will shift forward a year, and the store is now expected to open in 2011.
Last fall, the Payroll Development Authority finalized a deal that would funnel about $800,000 to the developer of the Walmart for road improvements to that site. The developer will only get that money after the store is constructed and a certificate of occupancy has been issued.