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Lowe's transferring or offering severance to Portage employees

Julie Kennedy screws in place a piece of drywall to the studs of a makeshift wall Friday morning during a women's build clinic at the Lowe's store in Portage in 2015.

Lowe's plans to transfer or offer severance to the employees at its Portage big-box store, which is slated to close by January at the latest.

"We are making every effort to retain our associates by providing opportunities for them to transition to the same or a similar role at a nearby Lowe’s store," spokesman Steve Salazar said. "In fact, the majority of impacted U.S. stores are located within 10 miles of a Lowe’s store. We expect to retain most of our U.S. associates."

But the retailer said it wouldn't be able to place everyone at another store, which includes Northwest Indiana locations in Schererville, Merrillville and Michigan City.

"Additionally, we will be offering severance packages to associates who aren’t offered roles in a nearby store," Salazar said. "We are working hard to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible for our associates and customers."

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Faced with stiff competition from Home Depot and Menard's in a tough time for brick-and-mortar retailers, the North Carolina-based chain announced it would close 20 stores in the United States and 31 in Canada that it said were underperforming.

That includes the Lowe's at 6221 U.S. 6 by the Portage IMAX and Portage High School. Lowe's first opened the 116,000-square-foot store in 2003.

An employee said the store was slated to close Jan. 13 at the latest, or whenever it moved the rest of the remaining inventory.

As Amazon and other e-commerce sites gain more and more of a foothold in the consumer marketplace, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been scaling back and closing locations in the Region and across the country in the last few years. Recent closures in Northwest Indiana have included Carson's, Sears, Kmart, Sports Authority, MC Sports and HH Gregg.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.