By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The new Walmart is open for business.
The store at 11 Ashleigh Way opened Sept. 12. Town officials helped celebrate and there was a special appearance by Rudy the Clydesdale, courtesy of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack.
The 155,000-square-foot store brings approximately 80 new jobs to town. That’s in addition to workers relocating from the old store at 30 Manchester Road, bringing the total staff to approximately 280.
The store joins other new businesses including Panera Bread, Woof Meow Family Pet Center and Goodwill, all part of an economic development push on Manchester Road, which is being widened.
Store manager Corey Skinner said he looked forward to the new location.
“We look forward to serving the people of our community, helping save people money so they can live better,” he said.
Community organizations also benefit from the retailer’s ongoing charitable contributions.
During the grand opening last week, Walmart presented $2,000 in grants to local police and fire departments, Greater Derry Humane Society and Sonshine Soup Kitchen.
The store offers an expanded grocery, produce and bakery section, pharmacy and general merchandise.
Walmart also features energy-saving elements and other external features put in place during the store’s planning process with the town, including an exterior facade using local granite in keeping with the town’s aesthetics.
“The store is a beautiful building with a pleasing design distinctive to Derry,” Skinner said.
Town officials say they are happy with the new store and the overall project on Manchester Road.
“I think the project is going very well and will be great to expand our commercial/industrial tax base,” Town Councilor Brian Chirichiello said. “The more we expand this part of the tax base, the less residential taxes will be depended on. This also brings new businesses closer to home.”
Chirichiello said new businesses boost the town’s job market and attract more people from surrounding towns who come here to shop.
Officials say the Manchester Road work is still on schedule to be completed by November.