Positive news is here in Decatur and you don’t have to look too hard to find it. While election seasons unfortunately bring with it forecasts of gloom and doom, when faced with facts, the weather looks bright for the River City.
Individually, each of the following is a flash of good news. Collectively, it shows a trend. The business climate in our city is strong.
1. North Alabama’s first Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbin store will open on 6th Avenue in late fall.
2. Domino’s Pizza is constructing a new 1,800 square foot restaurant featuring indoor and outdoor seating in Gateway Shopping Center.
3. Tuesday Morning’s 1,800+ square foot expansion is nearing completion in Southland Plaza.
4. A new Dollar Tree location opened this week in Southland Plaza.
5. Milo’s Restaurant has broken ground at the entrance of the Kroger shopping center on Beltline Road. It is the first Milo’s in north Alabama.
6. Interstate Billing Services is nearing completion of its new 36,000 square foot Veterans Drive location with more than $9 million invested and Robin Rents just opened its new location across the street.
7. NTB Tires & Service Center has signed an agreement to locate in the former Cycles Unlimited site on Beltline Road.
8. Golden Corral opened in the former Ryan’s location the end of August.
9. Wendy’s Restaurant on Beltline Road is making a $250,000 investment for renovations.
10. Aspen Dental is under construction in front of Decatur Mall.
11. Martin’s department store is planning a $1 million renovation at the Beltline Road location.
12. Mapco is planning another Decatur location at the corner of Old Moulton and Beltline Roads.
13. Holiday Inn Express, Residence Inn and Home 2 Suites hotel projects are adding 272 rooms to our local inventory with more than $20 million in investment.
14. The Cook Museum of Natural Science – a 57,000+ square foot, $17 million regional attraction – is set to open in 2017, where the city provided streetscape improvements due to the dramatic economic and educational potential of an estimated 200,000+ annual visitors.
15. August 22 marked the start of classes in the 42,000 square foot Phase II of the state-of-the-art Alabama Center for the Arts, a downtown educational collaboration between Calhoun Community College and Athens State University.
16. The “Point Mallard Centre” development on Point Mallard Parkway will be anchored by a major grocery chain that has already drawn additional retailers opening second locations all within the City of Decatur.
17. Amberley Suite Hotels on Bank Street has converted to “City Center Village,” serving a need for additional upscale senior living with more than 100 units.
18. New upscale loft apartments, 307 Second in downtown will be opening by early 2017.
19. “Bank Street Station,” an urban residential project led by a Nashville-based developer, is coming to lower Bank Street in 2017.
20. The simultaneous construction of new Austin and Decatur High School campuses will be an incredible opportunity for growth.
21. OCI Peroxygen recently celebrated the groundbreaking for a $2.3 million expansion at their Red Hat Road location – just one of many industrial partners who are expanding their footprint in Morgan County.
21 examples of why our city is not on “life support.”
21 examples of how businesses are coming together with city and county leaders to move our community forward and expand our tax base.
21 examples of retail and economic development in an area that has created a reputation in the region for being business-friendly, collaborative and willing to invest in public-private partnerships.
What’s also important to recognize is this, the projects listed above (by no means all-encompassing) don’t happen in dying communities. The list doesn’t even include the millions of dollars invested in road, landscaping, and lighting projects over the last two years. This economic trend occurs in areas of growth, vibrancy and opportunity.
No community is immune from challenges and Decatur has its share of opportunities to face head-on. Like many others, we’ve lost retailers such as K-Mart, Pier One and Hancock Fabrics, but it’s important to acknowledge the retail industry is changing nationwide and is not isolated just to our city. Consumer shopping behavior is also changing and we have to remember how critical it is to support our local merchants and service providers who provide jobs and resources for our community.
It’s important that we continue to share our city’s good news with our family, friends, neighbors, and throughout our community. We should all feel a sense of pride because every community of 56,000 people is not so fortunate.
We should also feel obligated to find ways to continue building our city and to encourage our leaders in a positive way. On Thursday a very excited group of Decatur citizens of varying ages, ethnicity and residential districts came together to begin formulating a plan for our future. Good, hard work is being done for the future of our community.
Stay tuned, get involved, and be a part of moving Decatur forward!
Crystal Brown is the Chamber's vice president of business and investor development, where she is responsible for the retention and expansion of existing businesses, recruitment of new businesses and commercial investment, coordinating business training/networking opportunities and serving as a direct liaison with Chamber investors. She has been with the Chamber since 2012.