The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Community Prepares to Aid Displaced Distribution Center Workers

 

March 13, 2019

Forrest Hershberger

Cabela's Distribution Center operations at Sidney will be closed down around mid-may, according to Bass Pro statements. The Oshkosh return center will also be closed down.

With last week's announcement that Bass Pro/Cabela's would be closing the Sidney product distribution center, local officials are already preparing to assist the workers displaced by the action.

"These are good people who have been in our community for a long time, and we're going to do what we can to help them," Sidney Mayor Roger Gallaway told the Sun-Telegraph.

"It's disturbing to see the dismantling of a company that for so many years was the fabric of our community," Gallaway said. "But we're going to hold our heads high and use the same logistics that drew many people here before to draw businesses and jobs here now.

"Once companies see the kind of people we have available in our workforce, that's going to seal the deal for them."

Gallaway said Sidney is going to be stronger after going through the situations it has in the past few years, and he doesn't expect anyone is going to shy away from the challenge.

Late last week, Cabela's announced it will be restructuring its distribution and return center network. As a result, Cabela's will be ceasing operations at the distribution center in Sidney and the return center in Oshkosh, by Spring 2019.

In making the announcement, Bass Pro said an analysis determined the 77-year-old Sidney facility handles the least volume of the company's distribution centers. Originally built by the U.S. Army to store ammunition during World War II, it is the oldest structure in the system and is very inefficient. Additionally, the customer returns process has been streamlined, eliminating the need for a standalone facility. While jobs will be added at other locations, the actions will result in the loss of 121 positions at the Sidney distribution center and an additional 41 positions at the Oshkosh return center.

Bass Pro spokesman Jack Wlezien told the Sun-Telegraph Monday that while there isn't a specific date for the closure, team members have been told they will be paid for 65 days from last Thursday's announcement, putting the final closure at an estimated mid-May. Wlezien said some shift work has already been affected, and some workers may be on the job less time than the 65 days.

"It's just depends on where they are in the restructuring," Wlezien said.

To meet the needs of displaced workers, local officials are seeking means to identify available jobs in the area, and are also continuing efforts in identifying potential businesses for the area.

Sidney of Sidney Economic Development Director Melissa Norgaard said Monday she is contacting manufacturing companies in the area to see if a job fair would be in order, with the distribution center workers the point of focus. While it's still early in the game, Norgaard said the response has been positive thus far.

Also pooling resources are Western Nebraska Community College and the Nebraska Department of Labor. Those groups have a number of programs designed specifically for displaced workers.

 

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