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Business owners wary of Wal-Mart

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LINCOLN - As the city of Lincoln ponders whether to bring a Wal-Mart supercenter to town, many small business owners would prefer to keep the status quo.

"Our grocery store would be impacted significantly," said Bill Campbell, owner of the Lincoln IGA. "We've worked hard to bring a local flavor to Lincoln, we even deliver groceries. I don't want the super Wal-Mart to come here because I'm not sure it would be beneficial."

At its Nov 22 meeting, the Lincoln City Council rejected plans for a new Wal-Mart on the city's west side, near Interstate 55. Unlike the current store, it would offer groceries and be open 24 hours a day.

Council members will now vote on revised plans for the store at its next meeting at 7:15 p.m. Monday in the council chambers.

Campbell is worried that if a supercenter is built in town, it could take 40 percent of his business and 20 percent of his work force. But whether businesses like it or not, Campbell predicted the town will eventually see the megastore.

Campbell also questioned why the city would give a large company like Wal-Mart tax incentives when it in turn could cause a loss of local businesses revenue.

"It's disappointing to see the world's largest corporation come in and get tax breaks," he said.

Downtown businesses are also fearful of the giant discount store moving in and taking business.

"I absolutely think bringing in the super Wal-Mart would decimate the downtown area, I feel the playing field should be leveled when it comes to tax incentives and all businesses should be treated equally," said Helen Rainforth, owner of Abe's in downtown Lincoln.

Barb Reinwald, owner of another downtown business, The Treasure Chest, said while her business may not be directly affected by the proposal, she was worried about downtown as a whole.

"I have nothing against Wal-Mart, but I just think instead of moving more large chains into Lincoln, the downtown should be pushed more, and more money should be spent here than at the large corporations," she said.

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