Kroger is no longer interested in Ringgold, Ga., or anywhere else in the Chattanooga area.
A company spokesman confirmed that the Cincinnati-based grocer had been "tentatively exploring an opportunity to open a new store in Ringgold." Local officials say they had offered as much as $900,000 in incentives, but now everyone says the deal is dead.
"At this time, Kroger has no plans in the Chattanooga market," said Glynn Jenkins, a spokesman in Kroger's Atlanta regional office.
Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger called the decision "unfortunate" but said he had heard the grocery chain was looking elsewhere even before tornadoes devastated the town on April 27.
"The storm couldn't have had any effect because it hadn't happened yet," he said.
In June 2010, city and Catoosa County officials said they were in talks with Kroger to build a store at the corner of Pine Grove Road and Battlefield Parkway in Ringgold.
Officials anticipated Kroger would have added considerable tax revenue to city and county coffers and that residents would have benefited from the new jobs.
In September, Catoosa County offered to fund about $777,000 in drainage and sewer work while Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold would have paid shares of an additional $127,000. Officials said they were told Kroger was considering a 90,000-square-foot store with 170 employees, but made it clear nothing was ever finalized.
"We've met all of their conditions," Barger said.
Jenkins would not elaborate on what factors went into Kroger's decision, but clarified the company is not breaking any commitments.
"Nothing was final and merely under review and consideration," he said.
Kroger's nearest stores to Chattanooga are in Dalton and Calhoun, Ga. In Tennessee, Kroger operates stores in Tullahoma, Decherd, Crossville and McMinnville as well as several in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.
Catoosa County Commissioner Bobby Winters, who represents the area where the store would have been built, said people in Catoosa would be disappointed at the news.
"A lot of us wanted the Kroger," Winters said.
He remained hopeful that Kroger or another big retailer would see things differently when consumer confidence returns.
"It's a bad economy," Winters said. "That's what I'm understanding it's all about."