Strasburg seeing more stores open

Downtown area storefronts filling up

By Katie Demeria

Strasburg is coming back to life.

Empty storefronts in the downtown area have been filled with three more businesses: Iron Rose, Jean’s Jewelers and Pot Town Organics.

And that’s not to mention Hangouts Grill, which opened earlier this month, as well as Holy Moly Donuts.

The influx of new businesses, according to Town Manager Judd Rex and Strasburg Chamber of Commerce President Rich Orndorff, likely has a number of causes, from the national economy improving to the streetscape project in downtown Strasburg.

“It’s difficult to peg the success that we’re seeing on any one project, but I certainly think the streetscape project is having a positive impact on the business environment downtown and getting folks excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” Rex said.

He also cited the arts and tourism district that Town Council created downtown as a possible reason for more businesses.

Within the district, according to Rex, businesses that are either based around the arts or their ability to attract tourists receive incentives relating to business license fees, taxes, and water and sewer utility bills.

Orndorff pointed out that many small towns have had a difficult time in recent years, and the recent, sudden growth in businesses may be a reflection that things are improving.

“King Street and downtown are starting to come alive again,” he said. “You know, we went through a difficult period, as did many main streets and downtowns. They’ve been taking a hit because of the influx of large box stores and malls.”

“And with the downturn in the economy it really, really was very, very tough on many small businesses,” he continued. “We had many vacant storefronts.”

The increase in local businesses could be a sign that the economy is taking a more positive turn, he said. And the town’s chamber of commerce, which decided to remain autonomous despite the creation of a county chamber two years ago, has allowed it to retain a community focus.

Rex said more businesses in the downtown areas will likely benefit the entire town, as well. A diverse tax base, he said, is one direct benefit.

Taxes increase from meals tax, businesses licenses or personal property taxes, as well as the tourists visiting the area.

“Residents benefit from tourists coming here because they bring with them tax revenue that we wouldn’t otherwise be getting, stabilizing our revenue sources,” Rex said.

Another way in which businesses downtown can help all of Strasburg is by attracting large employers to the town’s business industrial park, which was annexed earlier this year.

“What we’re finding all across the country is that large employers looking to locate to an area don’t just look at the land they’re going to buy or at the availability of skilled labor and employees, they also look at the amenities a community provides,” Rex said.

“That’s the greater picture we look at,” he said. “Yes, it’s going to bring jobs downtown and improve property value, but it’s also going to improve the overall marketability of the town and attract more businesses.”

The Jean’s Jewelers ribbon cutting will take place at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29 at 183 East King St. Pot Town Organics’ ribbon cutting will take place at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4 at 181 East King St., while Iron Rose’s will take place at 11 a.m. the same day at 179 East King St.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com