A Winn-Dixie official has confirmed the company will close its Bogalusa store as of Jan. 1, but Bogalusa Mayor Charles Mizell has not given up on trying to work out a way to keep the store here.
Winn-Dixie Manager Mike Piazza said Tuesday the store’s lease in Pine Tree Plaza will not be renewed and it will close, but he declined to comment further. Corporate officials did not respond to an email requesting information about the closure prior to deadline.
Mizell said the city of Bogalusa is “extending whatever resources are available” to keep the store here, but he said he has not received a response from Winn-Dixie.
Mizell said he is saddened to hear that Winn-Dixie may be leaving but understands it’s a corporate decision.
“We’re going to ask them to stay,” he said, noting Winn-Dixie is bound by dollars and cents and has to provide profits to its shareholders. “I respect that,” he said.
But he reiterated the city will do whatever possible to convince the company to stay in Bogalusa.
Mizell said he doesn’t know what the economic impact will be for Bogalusa with the loss of Winn Dixie. However, he said, “I would not think our citizens would have to go out of town” to spend their dollars.
The loss of jobs will be felt, however.
“We might be losing some good paying and greatly needed jobs,” Mizell said.
Washington Economic Development Foundation Director Ryan Seal seemed surprised by the news of the closing.
“I heard that rumor, but I hoped it wasn’t true,” he said.
“Every job is precious and every job is needed,” he continued, “and Winn-Dixie has been a fixture in our community for, I think, more than 40 years. We would like for Winn-Dixie to continue to have a presence in our community.”
On a personal note, Seal said his office is just down the street from the store, and he goes in there frequently.
“I just hope and pray that those employees find work locally or at another Winn-Dixie location,” he said.