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Walmart breaks ground in Cottage Grove, plans spring 2014 opening

Several Cottage Grove city officials participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday on the 180,000-square-foot Walmart on East Point Douglas Road. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss2 / 2

Gold-painted shovels churned fresh dirt Wednesday morning as Cottage Grove city officials marked the official groundbreaking of the 180,000-square-foot Walmart on the former Cottage View Drive-In site.

Walmart Market Manager Ted Jones, who will oversee the store when it opens next year, welcomed city and local business leaders and thanked former drive-in owner Gerry Herringer for selling the property.

"This is truly an honor to be able to offer our company to this great community," Jones said. "We're thrilled to offer great jobs with benefits and we look forward to being a great business partner here in Cottage Grove."

Council member Justin Olsen recognized the groundbreaking as an "exciting day in the history" of the city and said he was happy the "great organization has welcomed the site with open arms."

Lisa Nelson, a Walmart senior manager for public affairs, said plans are still on track for a spring 2014 opening.

Construction crews will spend about a month moving dirt on the site before beginning to dig for building footings in early June, said Tom Stratman, who is overseeing the construction project for Weis Builders.

The Walmart store will include a full grocery section and a pharmacy. The retail supercenter also will anchor the proposed Shoppes at Cottage View commercial development on East Point Douglas Road, which city officials said could also include additional retail, restaurants and a movie complex.

Olsen said Walmart will draw smaller businesses to the area, calling them "some of the little fish that like to swim with the big fish in the retail ocean."

Walmart officials said they will attempt to make the store part of the Cottage Grove community, including by working with the local Chamber of Commerce and donating to local nonprofit organizations.

Walmart officials say the store will employ about 300 people.