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Chamber, ECIDA pledge suport to help full retail void

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
The heads of the Chamber of Commerce and economic development in Escambia County said that Tuesday's closing of the Atmore Kmart store is a setback, but that the area can bounce back.
"Everyone needs to keep a positive attitude during this time," said Marshall Rogers, head of the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority. "Everyone needs to remember that we have a lot of positive things going on in Atmore at this time, and that we can build on those positive things.
"The City of Atmore, the Chamber of Commerce and my office will all be working hard to fill the gap left by Kmart leaving."
Emilie Mims, executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, echoed similar sentiments.
"I am shocked by the news of Kmart's closing," she said. "While were we aware of problems on the corporate level, we were hopeful that the Atmore location was safe due to its volume of business.
"My heart goes out to (Manager) Randall Shuttlesworth and those employees who I know are devastated by this announcement. This community is left with a tremendous retail void, and purchasing locally becomes all the more important now."
Mims said a meeting of the Chamber Board of Directors is scheduled for this morning in order to discuss "how we can pull together with available resources to adjust to this loss."
Rogers, too, offered her assistance in the job of finding a new retailer for the area.
"Even though our focus is on industry, we look at quality of life, too," she said. "We're more than willing to make some contacts and find out if someone is looking to locate a store somewhere.
"And we've sent out some good packets of information to businesses looking at places to relocate. We're all working to make something happen."