Waveland Kmart closure sends Hancock Co. leaders scrambling

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County leaders are scrambling after news broke that one of the county's major retailers is closing.They hope to minimize the loss of income and jobs that will come when the Waveland Kmart closes.

The announcement came as a big shock to folks who monitor business growth and development in Hancock County.

"You never want to lose any business in your community for any reason. And certainly this is going to be a great loss to the city of Waveland and Hancock County," said Tish Williams, Executive Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce.

Waveland Mayor David Garcia said retail sales taxes fuels his city's economy and they need every penny, but it's too early to tell how Kmart's closing will impact the city.

"We do not get any gaming revenues in the city of Waveland. We depend solely on property taxes as well as sales taxes," explained Garcia.

He said the hope is the impact will be minimum.

"Hopefully the people that was shopping local at the Kmart shops locally at the Walmart. That way we don't lose any of our sales tax revenues. People really need to understand when they shop local, they support their local merchants. Not only do you support your local merchants, you support your local governments."

Officials said their immediate concern is for the 32 employees who may or may not be able to relocate to another store.

"We have reached out to the Mississippi Employment Security and their Rapid Response Team is already on the scene working with Kmart," Williams said. "So we would like to ask our community if you know of any job openings that these employees can qualify for, please make sure that they do register those jobs with the WIN Job Center. The WIN Job Center in Picayune is now serving the Hancock County area."

The Waveland store is expected to close by the end of November. Hancock County leaders say they believe the property where Kmart is located won't be empty long because it is located in one of the busiest areas in the county.

The Kmart on Pass Road in Gulfport is also closing. The one on Hwy 49 in Orange Grove will be the only Kmart left operating in South Mississippi.

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