Walmart Expansion Brings Jobs, Good News for Local Economy

In a couple of years, the open field on the south side of the Eastwood Towne Center Walmart will no longer exist.

On Wednesday, the Lansing Township Planning Commission approved an expansion to the store. It includes a more complete grocery section for the Walmart, as well as, add a second entrance and another loading dock, turning it into a 'Supercenter'.

Walmart's Erik Hingst says, it's about giving the customers what they want.

"They can get things like fresh produce, deliveries from our bakeries, go into our meat selections and our deli," he said.

With the expansion part of the building's original plan, the approval was a long time coming.

"We've gotten a lot of calls, over the years, asking when is this 'Supercenter' going to happen," said Matt Brinkley, Lansing Township Senior Planner.

The addition almost happened, back in 2008.

"They proposed a similar kind of addition," said Brinkley. "It was actually a little bit larger."

However, when the economy took a turn for the worst, Walmart cut back and the project never happened.
This time, the biggest impact might be what the expansion does for the local economy.

"The expansion, itself, correlates to roughly about 80 jobs," said Hingst.

Scott Watkins of Anderson Economic Group says the expansion builds on a trend of grocery retailers investing in mid-Michigan.

It's a sign of confidence in the economy and in the middle class, which was started by GM and the automotive industry bringing in more jobs.

Brinkley says, it's a good sign for the project.

"This time around, we're more confident that they will actually complete the project," he said.

The expansion is scheduled to finish in January 2015.

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