COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) –
Columbia officials have long hoped for a revival of business activity on North Main Street and there is some evidence that it is finally beginning to happen.
Their hope is that it will boost the economy one startup at a time.
For the last year or two, the area located just a few blocks up from Elmwood Avenue has begun to show signs of the kind of development that could make this the next hot spot for people looking for cool places to eat, drink, and hang out. Many of the improvements on North Main were made possible by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – better known as the stimulus program.
Businesses such as Vino Garage and the War Mouth along with a couple of bakeries and other new restaurants that do not serve fast food are popping up in the area. Those businesses are part of a landscape that began developing about eight years ago when the city began using tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding to improve North Main infrastructure.
At Earlewood Park on Thursday, the City of Columbia put on a workshop aimed at helping entrepreneurs carve their way through the bureaucracy that can sometimes slow if not stop small business development. This comes on the heels of a couple of major economic development reports underscoring the need to streamline the startup process for budding business owners.
Small business owner Shelly Johnson attended the workshop. She wants to open a bakery and deli shop further up North Main in the Greenview area.
“We need to start building up the neighborhoods in our area. Like, they’re drying up and we need to bring some new things to it, you know, and I want to be one of those people that bring something new to the area,” Johnson said.
Johnson has her eyes on space in the largely vacant shopping center Greenview Plaza located just south of I-20. She will have some advantages in carrying out her efforts.
A few days ago the annual Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report put Columbia startup costs as the fourth-lowest in the nation.
Entrepreneurs will also get some help from the state Chamber of Commerce which called this week for a standardized business licensing process statewide.
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