Love’s in the air

March 26, 2019

Schuyler will soon have a business that one can’t find in Columbus or Fremont.

Love’s Travel Stops is tentatively set to break ground on what company officials call a “tier three” property just east of Cargill and across from The Scale House along Road E on the outskirts of town.

“We’re very excited to open our location in Schuyler,” said Frank Ille, manager of development for Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. “Highway 30 has decent traffic on it and it will be nice to be next door to a place that employs 2,000 people (Cargill).”

A family-owned chain of more than 470 truck stop/convenience stores in 41 states, the closest two Love’s locations to Schuyler are more than 40 miles away east and west, in Valley and Norfolk, respectively.

“I’m super excited. I’ve been looking forward to them breaking ground and getting going,” said Schuyler Community Development Coordinator Jackie Farrell. “I think it’s going to be beneficial to those in Schuyler, around Schuyler and traveling by Schuyler.”

The addition of Love’s will come a little more than five years since Schuyler’s last major economic development project – the opening of the 29-room Cobblestone Inn and Suites back in June 2014 across town at 2218 Colfax St. Coupled with a pair of housing projects also in the works locally, Schuyler is undoubtedly growing.

“It’s probably the most significant in a number of years,” Farrell said of Love’s and economic development efforts in town.

Love’s fascination with Schuyler actually goes back to the fall of 2017. Ille said a Love’s regional manager approached him about having a contact in the community who put the bug in his ear about Schuyler being a potential future location. Conversations with Schuyler officials soon began.

“And they had a good site for us to look at that was for sale,” Ille recalled, declining to name the local contact out of respect to that person’s privacy. “We went to check it out and thought it was very interesting.”

Farrell said her predecessor, Kem Cavanah, was instrumental in the process early on. She said tax increment financing (TIF), a public method used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects, will likely be key in the project as it moves forward (plans regarding TIF are supposed to be finalized with Schuyler City Council in April).

Farrell said Love’s has done its homework in regard to the area and specific location.

“Love’s did a traffic study and thought it would beneficial to them and their store,” Farrell said, noting the road will have to be widened because of traffic. “For Schuyler, it will help us do more with economic development in the community and increase what we bring in for our LB 840 sales tax funds.”

Love’s is currently scheduled to break ground in mid-April, with a target opening for the store at the end of November, according to Ille. In all, it’s slated to be about a seven-month process.

The “tier three” travel center will boast gas pumps, a convenience store, along with a few showers for truck drivers and a Subway sandwich shop. Ille said Love’s bought out the franchise owner of the present Subway location in town, 102 W. 16th St., and will relocate it when Love’s opens its doors.

Farrell said the building that currently houses Subway is owned by Didier’s Grocery across the parking lot, though acknowledged she wasn’t sure what plans are for that space.

As for Love’s, the store’s pending arrival will also bring jobs. Ille said residents can expect about 30-35 jobs in all, noting a few salaried manager positions will open up along with many cashier, merchandiser and restaurant roles.

Love’s has several properties across Nebraska, which Ille said is by design.

“We’re building about 30-40 locations a year,” he said. “We’re expanding our footprint all across the country, and Nebraska has been a very good state to us.”

Farrell reiterated Love’s will be a great addition to the area.

“Love’s is a very well-cleaned and well-kept travel shop. They’re very proud of customer service and how they do things, so I think that’s a great Midwestern benefit that will benefit all of us, too,” she said. “And they’re bringing more jobs to the community, so that’s great for our families and those who want to live in and around Schuyler.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.