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Walmart proposal shakes business confidence

Backlash over the potential of a Walmart in downtown Green Bay continues. Local businesses say they have lost confidence in downtown development group.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - The backlash over the potential of a Walmart in downtown Green Bay continues.  As business owners along Broadway Street express their doubt in a downtown business group,  charged with that district's development.

Two- dozen business owners in Green Bay's downtown say they want new direction within the Broadway District. All this a week after news of the potential Walmart became public.

For Christopher Naumann, the executive director of On Broadway Incorporated,  the last week  has been hectic.

"These are business owners and this is their way of life," said Naumann. "This is big news to them and it's hard to digest."

The news, word that On Broadway has been approached by Walmart  about the possibility of building on the vacant Larsen Green space within the Broadway District.  For the last week reaction has been strong,  from the public, as well as from business owners,  like Marta Mezo.

"We really don't want to have the city and community invest so much in this district and have this come along  to so well , to undo all of that," said Mezo.

On Wednesday  the newly formed,  Broadway Business Alliance,  announced a vote of no confidence in On Broadway's current leadership. Mezo says the two-dozen business owners involved  want advocates that are more transparent and accountable.

"We want that vibrant advocacy organization that made such strides in bringing this district to where it is now," Mezo said.

"There is a  lot of irrational fear, as well as legitimate concerns," Naumann said.

Naumann understands the reaction, but says he has a fiscal responsibility to review any proposal Walmart may eventually present.  Thursday morning, On Broadway  took a vote of its own - with its board of directors unanimously voicing their confidence in Naumann's leadership.

"By no means are these concerns being written off," Naumann said. "But they do need to be delivered in a very respectful manner. They need to be in a calm voice and that will leverage their voice that much more."

As for Walmart, a formal proposal is expected within 30 days.  Thursday, Delia Garcia, director of communications for the company issued this statement "We look forward to working with city officials and downtown business leaders to evaluate a site in the Broadway District to propose a  store that best  fits the needs of the community."

Naumann says any proposal would need to be go through numerous layers of city government to move forward. Walmart has also told him, they would hold multiple meetings where public input would be encouraged.

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