Brewton bags Supercenter

Published 6:18 am Monday, February 12, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
The City of Greenville's coffers have grown by $1.2 million since Wal-Mart built a Supercenter in the community two and a half years ago, Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon said.
Those are the kind of increases Brewton officials are hoping to see after Wal-Mart opens a Supercenter in the city in the next 18 months. The Arkansas-based retail giant plans to close its store on Douglas Avenue and open a 172,000-square-foot Supercenter - more than twice the size of the current store - on U.S. Highway 31.
Greenville is beginning to see more commercial growth near the new Supercenter, McClendon said, including two new motels, an eight-screen movie theater and a 150-apartment complex.
It doesn't hurt that Greenville - located on Interstate 65 - is less than an hour south of Alabama's Hyundai plant, and has seen 600 new jobs in recent years from Korean companies that built in Greenville to supply the car maker.
But Greenville has been able to apply some of its sales tax revenue toward incentives for new businesses, including the movie theater, McClendon said.
And McClendon - who doesn't claim to be a &#8220Wal-Mart fan” - said he has noticed that other businesses have seen new customers as a result of more people coming to town to shop at Wal-Mart.
One grocery store did close in Greenville after Wal-Mart opened - Winn-Dixie. But the store closed on the same day that its parent company shuttered stores across the country in a restructuring move associated with its declaration of bankruptcy.
Other cities have seen similar growth from Wal-Mart expansions. A new 204,00-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter in Andalusia opened last October. The store hosts several other retail entities, including hair and nail salons and a Subway restaurant.
Sales tax collections were up 18 percent in Andalusia and 13 percent in Covington County in November, the Supercenter's first full month of operations.
Andalusia City Clerk John Thompson said there is &#8220no doubt” the new Supercenter has had a big impact on sales tax growth.
Brewton's Supercenter - which is expected to be open in summer 2008 - would likely bring greater tax revenues as well, Brewton officials said.
Wal-Mart has had trouble with planned expansions in some communities.
Residents in Fairhope made news last year by planting anti-Wal-Mart signs in their yards, although construction of the store is ongoing.
Meanwhile, a proposed Wal-Mart in Mobile has run into zoning problems and oppostition from residents.

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