Located in western Nebraska, a couple hours’ drive to either Denver or Cheyenne, WY, the small city of Sidney has been home to outdoors outfitter Cabela’s for more than 50 years, as it grew from a little catalog operation to a retail chain with billions of dollars in annual sales. But now that Cabela’s has been purchased by Bass Pro Shops, what will happen to the 2,000 jobs that the company had provided to the local economy?
This is an understandable fear. Mergers are about efficiency, and combining two very similar companies means that some functions will move to departments already doing the same thing at Bass Pro headquarters in Springfield, MO.
The Associated Press reports that Bass Pro Shops maintains that it will keep some operations and employees in Sidney, but that the combined headquarters will be in Missouri.
Sidney is a town of 7,000 people, and 2,000 people in the area work for Cabela’s. The town suffered a similar level of job losses when the Sioux Army Depot, a munitions storage facility that also employed around 2,000 locals, closed in 1967.
Just six years before that, a local man named Dick Cabela started selling fishing flies from his kitchen with the help of his wife and his brother.
The business grew over five decades from three people at the Cabelas’ kitchen table to a catalog and superstore giant that sold to Bass Pro shops for $4 billion. Is there an up-and-coming local business that will grow and employ people from the town this time?
The town of Sidney, meanwhile, is happy to work with the newly merged companies to keep as many jobs in town as possible. A year ago, the mayor of Sidney hoped to persuade Bass Pro to put more of its operations in town.
The city government is still willing to employ incentives to keep as many Cabela’s jobs as it can.
“I believe that Bass Pro will find Sidney very attractive, and the city will be very willing to work with the company just as it did with Cabela’s,” a city council member told the AP.