Commissioner works to keep Kroger, prevent businesses from leaving

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Despite the Pio Nono Avenue store closing, Kroger employees will still have jobs. Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Virgil Watkins says employees will just be placed at another Kroger store.

Watkins is working to make sure every employee keeps a job. He is trying to keep the store from closing, but he says that may not be an option.

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“Obviously we are limited at the option to throw cash at the problem,” said Watkins.

With a budget shortfall, Macon-Bibb County’s hands are tied.

“What are we willing to sacrifice or prevent to the corporate community?,” said Watkins. “I think is an interesting question. Is there any potential for us to potentially save or delay the closure and what comes next?”



Watkins has personally gotten in contact with staff at the Kroger headquarters. He says he has thought about how the county can provide gratuity or cash incentives, but with the current county budget, it’s “highly unlikely” they can get Kroger to stay open. So Watkins is looking at other ways to help and make sure that site doesn’t go completely dark

“Using our industrial authority as well as our Urban Development Authority to come up with some ways if the county is able to gain site control of it,” said Watkins. “If we’re able to redevelop it into a smaller aerial.”

These are all options Watkins wants to scope out before there’s yet another empty building left in the county.

“While we’re here and it’s on the forefront of their minds and our minds. Let’s address it and come up with strategies early to see what we can do,” said Watkins.

Watkins is trying to set up a meeting with Kroger representatives, Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Economic Development and Urban Development Authority this Thursday. He wants to see what the building can be turned into, and how Macon can keep commercial businesses from leaving.