Employees losing jobs at Shopko can get help

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) – Shopko has announced that it will be closing a large number of its stores throughout the Midwest this coming spring.

Shopko's Military Avenue store was the first to open in 1962. It's scheduled to close this April. (WBAY photo)

The Ashwaubenon – based company filed for bankruptcy last month and will be closing 251 stores overall. In Northeastern Wisconsin alone, it will be closing 11 stores that will be affecting approximately 450 employees.

Jim Golembeski, an Executive Director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board explains that the people who will be affecting by this will have no problems finding a job. He says: “…anybody affecting by this is going to be stepping into an economy where employees are looking for people.”

Golembeski continues to explain that based off of his experience, many people who are working in retail will stay in retail. In Brown County alone, there are more than 200 retail sales and supervisor position openings. He expands by saying that many of the people working at Shopko are late career people who only want part-time work and are not looking for a new career. Others are high school kids working their first jobs.

A new state grant program has been designed specifically for people in the retail industry looking to broaden their career. Golembeski says: “Let’s say we have an individual who’s 23, 24, 25 years old, working in Shopko and he or she decides maybe I need to think about a career. I want to go into nursing, I want to go into a machining career, I want to go into physical therapy… that individual could get up to $15,000 in tuition assistance.”

At this point, Golembeski hasn't received word from Shopko about potential reductions at its corporate headquarters, but says if assistance is needed it will be provided.