It's one of the fastest growing retailers and now the Freeport Walmart is getting an upgrade. Construction on a new Walmart Supercenter kicked off today by Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp and some city officials.
The Supercenter is being built down the road from the current Walmart location on Route 26. That store will close once the Supercenter is opened in about a year. The new Walmart will double in size and employ more than 200 workers.
But not everyone is happy about another big box store coming to Freeport.
Anytime a big retailer comes to town, it's only natural for smaller shops to be concerned their business may be in jeopardy. Some shoppers at one grocery store have mixed emotions about the future Supercenter coming to their neighborhood.
Stephens Market is the only independent grocery store in downtown Freeport. Employees refer to many of their customers by name and rely on neighbors to keep them in business. So when customers heard about a Walmart Supercenter coming to town, some brought out the swords.
"I don't think we need a Super Walmart. We already have a Walmart I think it's plenty big for Freeport. I'd rather see something big we don't have a like a Kohls or Target," says shopper Terri Teuber.
The manager at Freeport's Walmart says the store is upgrading due to a surge in customer demand.
"I get asked every day. Every single day 'when can we get a Supercenter here so we're not driving to Dixon to Sterling to Rockford' or wherever they're choosing to go right now," says store manager Mark McDonnell.
In fact, some are are thrilled that they won't have to drive to extra distance.
"I think it's a great ideas I used to live in Sterling and would go to that one all of the time so I think it would be great to have a Super Walmart here," says shopper Julie Groshans.
While store managers at Stephens Market say they find the news upsetting, they don't think a Walmart Supercenter will force them to shut down.
Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp says the new Supercenter is expected to generate one million dollars in tax revenue each year. And right nearby, the city is also expecting to see a Menard's.
This isn't the only place, where Walmart will be coming. Supercenters are popping up all over the Stateline.
Currently four Supercenter projects are underway. In Rockford, Rockton, Janesville, and Monroe. Each project is expected to cost between 10 and 25-million dollars.