June 8, 2016 Edition

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Mayor Charles Snapp (right) speaks at a press conference Monday announcing the location of a new Tractor Supply Co. store in Walnut Ridge. Others are (from left): Ryan George of BG Development Co. in Jonesboro, Dr. Tom Jones of Williams Baptist College and Phillip Barr, also of BG.

Developers announce plans
for Tractor Supply in WR

John Bland

A Tractor Supply Co. retail store will be opening in Walnut Ridge in the coming months thanks to a cooperative effort that took place over a year between several entities and individuals.

Papers were signed Monday, just prior to a press conference, selling the retail property, known as the Ridge Center, which includes the former Walmart building, owned by Williams Baptist College, to BG Development Co. of Jonesboro.

The property is located on Hwy. 67B North and includes a Dollar General Store, Ma and Pa's Flea Market and the First National Bank ATM drive-through.

"This is a huge day for Walnut Ridge," said Mayor Snapp. "This is the first step in one of many upcoming projects and announcements."

Snapp thanked several individuals and institutions for their help in bringing this project about. They included County Judge Dale Freeman, Dina Rose and Fran Cavenaugh of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, Williams Baptist College, and Ryan George and Phillip Barr of BG Development Co. in Jonesboro, who were "visionaries" for seeing the potential in such a project.

Dr. Tom Jones, president of WBC, said, "Williams Baptist College is proud to be part of anything that is good for our community" and called the development a "win-win" project.

Jones said the college acquired the retail property six years ago. "C.L. Clark was the impetus behind the college receiving the gift."

"The property has been a blessing the past six years," Jones said. He thanked their tenants, including the Powers and Slaughter families, First National Bank and Dollar General. He also thanked Dale Leatherman, vice president for business affairs at Williams, and Mayor Snapp for their help in coordinating the project.

The sale of the property will provide funds needed in building a residence hall, Jones added.

Phillip Barr of BG Development expressed thanks to the city, Mayor Snapp and WBC for their assistance with the project. Representing BG Development with Barr was his associate, Ryan George of Swifton.

Barr said the new retail store should provide jobs, a strong tax base and new merchandise to this area. Some 15 to 20 jobs are expected to come with the new business.

Construction to remodel the property is expected to begin later this month. The retail store will occupy the north half of the former Walmart building.

"Tractor Supply Company is the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States. The company operates over 1,500 retail stores in 49 states, employs more than 23,000 team members and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. Its stock is traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol 'TSCO'," according to their website.

"The company was founded in 1938 as a mail order catalog business offering tractor parts to America's family farmers. Today Tractor Supply is a leading edge retailer with annual revenues of approximately $6.2 billion.

"Tractor Supply stores are located primarily in towns outlying major metropolitan markets and in rural communities."

Some of the Tractor Supply Co. products include: clothing and footwear, dog, cat and pet supplies, lawn and garden supplies, tools and gun safes, fencing, welder and welding supplies, lawn mowers and power generators.

Dale Leatherman, vice president for business affairs at Williams, told The TD that WBC acquired the donation of the property and buildings from the Thomas F. James Realty Limited Partnership, LLLP. Thomas F. James specialized in commercial development and construction, leasing property to Sam Walton for his Walmart stores around the country.

James believed in the importance of educating and empowering young people to make a positive change in the world and to be the next generation of leaders with a foundation of Christian ethics, according to Leatherman.

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