- Associated Press - Monday, July 24, 2017

WALDRON, Ark. (AP) - A small city in western Arkansas is losing its Walmart store, a top employer and a key source of sales-tax revenue.

The Walmart in Waldron recently closed its doors after 35 years, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2tUeMva ) reported.

“We need to get that behind us,” said Mayor Neil Cherry at a community meeting Tuesday. “We need to forget about it and we need to move forward from here. Walmart is gone. We might as well just forget it. So let’s think about what we can do to progress and move forward from here.”

Officials of the retailer said its decision to close the store was based on a review process that considers factors like financial performance and strategic alignment with the company’s long-term plan.

The store was the only one located in Scott County, and while other retailers operate in Waldron, the city heavily relied on Walmart for food, general merchandise, pharmacy and other services.

Walmart’s closing has affected everybody here,” said James Forbes, county judge for Scott County.

The city won’t know the economic effects of losing the store until October, when it’s expected to receive its first sales-tax check without the retailer.

City Clerk and Treasurer Sherry Johnston projected the city would’ve collected about $577,000 on a 1 percent sales tax this year if Walmart stayed open. She expects that number to drop to about $500,000, which will affect a general fund that covers services.

Johnston has said the city relies on the sales tax to help with funding services such as fire, police and parks.

“When a business closes, it has an impact,” said Mark Peterson, an economic and community development professor with the University of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service. “It depresses the economy. What’s important is to have actions, activities and strategies that can boost the economy.”

Walmart opened its first store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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