SIDNEY — When Bass Pro Shops completed a buyout of Cabela’s and moved much of the operation to its own corporate offices in Springfield, Missouri, there were many who predicted a bleak future for Sidney.
Through the determination of Sidney’s citizens and its leadership, those predictions have not come to pass.
“It’s been challenging, but at the same time, people have been incredibly resilient, and it hasn’t been as dire as what a lot of the prognosticators would have thought,” Sidney Mayor Roger Gallaway said.
While the Cabela’s buyout pulled some residents away, many have chosen to find ways to stay in Sidney.
“It was surprising just how many people really, really wanted to find a way to stay here,” Gallaway said. “And that included some people who were offered jobs with Bass Pro in Springfield that turned them down because they said no, they wanted to stay in this area. ... Those people that wanted to find a way to stay here have found a way to stay here. That’s a credit to them, and it speaks well of the community.”
Gallaway, who became Sidney’s mayor in December after serving on the City Council since 2012, said his own experiences in the community express how many residents feel. Gallaway came to Sidney in 1992 working for the school district, where he is the media center director for the middle school and high school. He has been active in community activities, youth activities and coaching. A daughter and a son have graduated and another daughter is a sophomore at SHS.
“It’s been a great, friendly community that you felt very safe about raising a family,” Gallaway said. “It always has had a lot to offer. Kids are always able to take part in a lot of different activities. Just the overall positive and friendly nature of the community, people have always worked really hard and really well together to get things done. The positive outlook on the community has always sold itself.”
In spite of adversity, Gallaway said, “the bottom line is we need to take care of the people who are here.” As a result, streets and infrastructure must be maintained even though the city has faced budget cuts the last three fiscal years. There is light on the horizon, though.
“I’m an optimist,” Gallaway said. “I think we’ll be better off than we were in all reality.”
Sales tax revenues are returning to levels close to where they were prior to the Cabela’s sale. There has been an influx of people from the Front Range who have helped in the housing market as well as the sales tax numbers. Optimism and confidence among the residents is seen as a driver of those figures.
“Obviously, news of that nature and the size and scope of that caused a lot of people to be concerned and be cautious, which is understandable,” Gallaway said. “But I think we are seeing a lot of return to confidence in the local economy and the area. They’re allowing the sales tax to get back to those pre-existing levels.”
Attracting businesses to the community is an ongoing process for municipalities of any size.
“There’s been a wide variety of businesses that we’ve been able to attract,” Gallaway said. “Obviously, things never happen as fast as you want them to or need them to, but in the long run, we’re going to be so much more diverse and with the stability that comes from that, we’ll be in a much, much better place five years from now.”
The reasons for people to come to Sidney or stay in Sidney often come down to location and the workforce.
“Our demographics and our logistics are what initially attract people,” Gallaway said. “It makes Sidney very easy to sell. We’re right off of the interstate, we’re close to the Front Range and (Denver International Airport), we also have (Highway) 385 running from Canada to Mexico, we have both railroads going through town — Union Pacific and Burlington Northern — so it’s not hard to attract some of these businesses.
“But what really sells them in the end is the people. If we can get people here to take a look at us, it’s the people in the end that sells and often seals the deal for us. We’ve had numerous business owners comment on that as they’ve gone through the town and met with people prior to locating here.”
Even before becoming the mayor, Gallaway was sold on Sidney and continues to promote its benefits.
“Sidney is an easy place to call home once you get to know the people and everything in it,” he said.