- Associated Press - Sunday, January 17, 2016

NETTLETON, Miss. (AP) - Local officials say they’re stunned by news that Walmart is closing stores in their areas.

“That was devastating news to us. We had planned for that store to increase our sales and that put a damper on our ideas,” Mayor Mem Riley of Nettleton, Mississippi, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1SWwJlO).

In Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, economic development director Marion “Butch” Fox told the American Press (https://bit.ly/1KlfMKJ ) that officials did not have any clue that the store in Lake Arthur might close, and had thought it and one in nearby Iowa were doing well.

Riley said the majority of the Nettleton store’s customers came from out of town.

“They are from Amory or Smithville that drive through there headed to Tupelo,” Riley said. “They come back here and shop on the way to work. They just figured out where it was, and here (Wal-Mart) is pulling the plug.”

Six stores in north Mississippi and eight around Louisiana are among 269 that Walmart will shutter worldwide.

Other affected Louisiana stores are in Kentwood, Independence, Mamou, Colfax, Clinton and Zwolle (ZWAH-lee).

The others in Mississippi are in Belmont, Mantachie, Sardis, Walnut, and Dermas.

In all, the closings affect about 240 Louisiana workers and nearly 180 in Mississippi.

Company spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said laid-off workers will have priority for openings at nearby stores.

A 45,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market employing 60 to 70 people is scheduled to open this year in Tupelo.

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