EAGLE RIVER - In a few months' time, more than 300 people will lose their jobs in Rhinelander. Announcements that Drs. Foster and Smith and Rhinelander's Shopko location would close came just a month apart, but those closings won't just affect Rhinelander itself.
"It's devastating," said Vilas County Economic Development Corporation (VCEDC) Executive Director Bob Egan. "You know we do demographics and many of the people from the Eagle River area and Vilas County work in Rhinelander."
Egan says while plenty of people in Vilas County are hiring, not all of them are full-time jobs. For the full-time jobs that do exist, he says they aren't hiring at a rate that would solve the problem entirely.
Earlier in February there was a sigh of relief when Rhinelander wasn't on a list of Shopko locations would be closing. But roughly a week later, the company added Rhinelander to that list.
That last minute addition leaves other communities like Eagle River wondering what might happen to their Shopko locations. For Egan the Shopko closing in particular is concerning since the same thing could potentially happen in Eagle River.
"In Rhinelander you at least have some other competing stores; you have Hobby Lobby and that whereas we really don't have any of that in Eagle River," said Egan. "So it's definitely going to be a loss if that's the case, if they do go."
Eagle River's Shopko management was not able to comment, but there is no indication the store will close.
Eagan believes the Errand Solutions in Land O' Lakes and Lac du Flambeau's Business Development Corporation have some full-time job opportunities available.