Poteau-based Spider Webb Farm Implements plans to open a John Deere dealership at 3421 Zero St. this spring.

"We want to take care of all the folks in the river valley," said Matt Webb, Spider Webb president and general manager. "That location will make it easy for people in Alma and Van Buren to come right down Interstate 540. It's convenient to people to the east in Lavaca and Paris, too."

The 26,000-square-foot building on a 6-acre lot adjacent to I-540 previously was occupied by Reeder-Simco Truck Center Webb said the dealership is spending about $250,000 to remodel it to John Deere franchise standards.

The architectural and contracting firms handling the project are, respectively, The Hill Firm and Wear Construction.

Crews will finish work next month, and the business will have a grand opening celebration sometime in early June. Spider Webb will employ about 15 people at the location, mostly in full-time positions.

In addition to a full-line of Deere agricultural equipment, Spider Webb in Fort Smith, like its Poteau store, will sell lawn and garden products, too, he said.

Fort Smith has been a potential expansion target for the dealership for several years.

"It was a perfect match for our store, John Deere and the time frame," said Webb.

Approval for the franchise occurred at about the same time that the Zero Street property became available.

Although agricultural equipment sales were down across Oklahoma about 25%, Spider Webb's sales from 2008 to 2009 essentially were flat, he said. The agricultural sector in the region has been steady, especially when compared to other sectors.

"It has been stable," said Webb. "2008 was an excellent year, and 2009 was down in line with the national economy. So far, 2010 looks good, and we're looking forward to an even better 2011."