SIDNEY — “Frustrating” is how Sidney Mayor Roger Gallaway described the atmosphere as Bass Pro Shops announced it will move nearly 120 jobs from its Cabela’s Sidney operation to corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, starting next year.
Sidney had already lost 121 jobs last March when Bass Pro Shops closed its Cabela’s distribution center.
“Bass Pro Shops corporate hasn’t contacted us at all about this move,” Gallaway said. “Just when we think we’ve weathered the last job loss, we get the rug pulled out from under us again.”
In a prepared statement, Jack Wlizien, director of communications for Bass Pro Shops, said it was a decision they didn’t take lightly.
“The company fully appreciates the importance of the fine people of Cabela’s to the town of Sidney and the surrounding area,” Wlizien said. “Bass Pro Shops united with Cabela’s in 2017 in an effort to strengthen and grow the iconic Cabela’s brand, which was facing significant financial headwinds. The united company has relied upon talent and leadership from both entities to strengthen the organization and better serve its customers.”
Wlezien said the relocations are “consistent with the company’s long-term commitment to efficiently provide the highest level of service.”
The company announced Wednesday that employees who choose not to move to Springfield will be offered severance and outplacement aid.
Melissa Norgard, Sidney’s economic development director, said she’s received no word, email or phone call from Bass Pro Shops as to their decision or the reason why it was made.
“We’ve only been able to read first and second hand from what’s already been posted on the Internet,” Norgard said. “Obviously, it’s disappointing. We’ve been told over the last two years there would be significant operations left in Sidney and this happens with zero warning.”
She said the city will continue to recruit new businesses and work on getting some of the people affected back into new jobs in the community.
“We’ve been having ongoing conversations with several companies,” Norgard said. “I think one of our biggest hurdles will be coming to an agreement on the cost of the real estate and office space we have available.”
Economic development projects never seem to move forward quickly. However, Norgard said the city will be trying to move some of them along so they can capture the talent that’s still in the community.
What effect the job losses will have on Sidney’s school system is still unknown. Superintendent Jay Ehler said it will most likely be similar to what the district has already been dealing with for the past few years following the sale of Cabela’s to Bass Pro Shops.
“Declining student enrollment and property valuations are the primary issues we’re dealing with,” Ehler said. “I think it’s possible that many of the people will try to remain in Sidney and look for jobs in the area. We hope that’s possible but understand people have to make a living.”
Gallaway, who teaches in the Sidney school system, is optimistic because the people of his community are resilient.
“It’s hard to see families and friends uprooted like this,” he said, “but we’ll keep moving forward.”