Former Shopko distribution center in Sarpy County to close, costing about 300 jobs

Former Shopko distribution center in Sarpy County to close, costing about 300 jobs
The former Shopko Distribution Center at 10808 S. 132nd St. is closing. This photo, from 2011, shows the center before it was taken over by Spectrum America, when Shopko outsourced its distribution. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD

A Sarpy County warehouse complex that distributed products for regional Shopko stores is closing, costing about 300 people their jobs.

The World-Herald confirmed the closure Monday, which was explained in a statement from the Wisconsin company, Spectrum America Supply Chain Solutions, that took over the former Shopko Distribution Center at 10808 S. 132nd St.

Employees reached Monday said they were shocked to learn last week that the distribution center was closing. They figured its central location and size, the company’s largest, would help it survive.

None interviewed would give their names for attribution. The concern for some older, more experienced employees was starting over with little vacation and lower pay.

Shopko outsourced distribution for its stores in 2016, saying the move saved jobs at the Sarpy warehouse because all workers were retained. Then this year, the regional retailer declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced the closure of more than 100 of its 363 stores, including 20 Shopko stores in Nebraska and Iowa.

That smaller retail footprint left Shopko in need of less distribution muscle. Spectrum America will close warehouses in the Omaha area and Boise, Idaho. It will maintain a Shopko distribution center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“Spectrum deeply appreciates the loyalty of its teammates, and our foremost concern is to help them during this time,” the company said in a statement.

Spectrum America said it was still working out the timing of the two closures and said it would work with employees to help them transition to new jobs. It did not specify the nature of the assistance it’s offering.

The Nebraska Departments of Labor and Economic Development offer a rapid response program for the employees of companies that downsize or close. Officials said they were gathering information about their involvement.

News of the center’s closure comes as a number of Omaha-area companies have announced job cuts, including Union Pacific, which announced last week that it would trim its workforce by 250 people, more than half in Omaha.

But the local unemployment rate remained at 2.7 percent in December, the most recent available, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. An unemployment rate that low essentially means there are more jobs available than people to fill them, economists say.

Sarpy County, in particular, has been a hotbed of jobs in logistics, including distribution. That gives Andrew Rainbolt, executive director of Sarpy County’s Economic Development Corp., confidence that these folks will find work.

“It’s certainly a blow, but it’s more reflective of the retail situation than the economy in general,” he said. “I’m hopeful we can absorb those folks into other open positions that are out there.”

Meanwhile, he said, local and regional economic development officials will work to lure a new employer to the site, touting the advantages of locating at least part of a company’s distribution network in the center of the country.