Walmart controversy brewing in Ellsworth

ELLSWORTH, Kansas – It’s an ongoing debate in Ellsworth. New jobs and more stores, or a threat to locally-owned businesses?

“It’s going to bring at least 30 jobs, it’s going to bring people into town, it’s going to help schools, families will come in, it’s just win win.” says Jason Hicks, a pro-Walmart Ellsworth citizen.

“We don’t think Walmart first of all doesn’t offer anything else that doesn’t already exist in Ellsworth,” said Kevin Kennedy, a pharmacy owner.

The proposed Walmart Express would be located at the intersection of Highways 156 and 140, and because it’s only a Walmart Express, it would be about the size of a Walgreens and include a pharmacy and some grocery items.

“Currently, the property is zoned correctly and the city doesn’t own the property, it’s a private land sale, so we don’t have a lot of options as far as what we could do even if we wanted to stop it,” said Tim Vandall, Ellsworth City Administrator.

The city decided to call a town meeting, hoping to simply provide answers for residents about the new business.

Walmart has been testing out the Express idea in limited markets, the Ellsworth store would be one of several planned in Kansas.

“Being part of a small local business here in Ellsworth, it’s hard for me to be for it, with a large business coming in and taking away from some of the businesses that are local and have been here for a long time,” said Ryan Parsons, and Ellsworth Resident.

Some businesses are also worried that they won’t be able to compete with a big corporation.

“There’s some things Walmart can do with their deep pockets that we can’t compete against,” said Kennedy.

Walmart did respond to KSN’s request for comment late this afternoon, saying, “Walmart Express stores will bring about 30 new jobs, plus construction jobs and helps expand a community’s local tax base and attract more investment.”

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