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New life for old businesses

Posted: April 9, 2013 - 11:04pm

Columbia County’s elected officials and agency directors this week, like those in neighboring communities, are working hard to catch the attention of Masters visitors with the potential for returning to our community and bringing jobs with them.

There’s plenty in Columbia County to show off, as Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Randy DuTeau discusses in his guest column today, as newly hired Development Authority Director Robbie Bennett talks about in a story today, and as County Commission Chairman Ron Cross wrote about in a guest column Sunday.

As DuTeau aptly puts it: Whatever you’re looking for, it’s here.

For retail developers, that’s starting to appear increasingly true as new businesses continue to pop up across the Columbia County landscape. Many of them are small startups by entrepreneurs, such as the Ivy Boutique and Gifts in Evans, or the soon-to-open cat-boarding facility, MeowTown, in Martinez. But there’s one trend that’s especially heartening to see: empty big-box storefronts being filled by new businesses.

In the past year or so, Columbia County took some big hits when the corporate parent closed three Food Lion stores – two of them in brand-new buildings – and the corporate bosses shut down the Martinez Kmart. Few things are uglier in the landscape than a vacant storefront.

But in recent days, word has come out that those empty stores soon will be refilled. One Food Lion will house a Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store, a new concept to our community. Another will house a Big Lots discount store (which is a little downscale, but nonetheless far better than empty space). And this week we hear Carolina Pottery plans to set up shop in the former Kmart building in West Town shopping center.

New commercial construction is a boost to the economy. But getting new life from existing buildings is pretty good, too.

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