Shopko’s looming closure is but the latest in a long line of business closures/failures in Libby — Stimson lumber, Stinger Welding, Revett Minerals, SK Fingerjoint, LiV Golf Cars, and the list goes on.
One third-rate retailer does not a town make. Libby will survive Shopko’s demise and I am certain another third-rate retailer will soon fill the void. Those holding out hope for the likes of a Walmart or Target, do not hold your breath. Libby has neither the population base or the wealth to attract such retailers.
Now that Environmental Restoration is packing up and leaving town, the local economy will suffer even more hardships. The influx of retirees/pensioners is not enough to keep the Libby economy afloat. Silly concepts like erecting scrap metal eagles all over town and attempting to rebrand Libby as the “City of Eagles” are a dismal failure. Desperate pleas for tourism dollars will not save Libby, but good paying jobs will.
Libby needs to return to its roots, and that is an extraction-based economy, an economy based on mining and harvesting all the abundant natural resources that surround us. This god-given wealth is just laying out there, waiting, but the political will to access it is severely lacking.
As stated earlier, Libby will survive, but at what costs? Will it once again be a thriving town with an economy full of high paying timber and mining jobs, or will it be a town full of people working two and three minimum wage service jobs just to make ends meet?
— Frank Hollingsworth, Libby