Year in review : The region welcomed new businesses in 2016

Business in the Shenandoah Valley saw its share of crests and troughs in 2016. Several area Food Lions shuttered their doors. Rural King opened in Front Royal and has been roaring ever since. Several area entrepreneurs participated in Rev Up Strasburg, which resulted in new businesses in town.

The area also saw a new cancer treatment center in Winchester, and doctors at Valley Health’s Heart and Vascular Center began performing much less invasive heart procedures under Basel Ramlawi, chairman of the Heart and Vascular Center and director of the new Advanced Valve and Aortic Center.

Strasburg saw the closure of Peoples Drug Store, a 100-year-old institution, and lovers of gourmet food were delighted to see Fresh Market open its doors in Winchester.

Over the summer, the approval of a merger between European grocery giants – Netherlands-based Royal Ahold and Delhaize Group, of Belgium – resulted in Food Lion stores in Front Royal, Stephens City, Berryville and Winchester, as well as two West Virginia locations, changing to Shop N Save markets, the parent company of which is Supervalu. Those working at Food Lion stores at the time of the change were offered opportunities to keep their jobs, Jeffery Swanson, a Supervalu spokesperson, said in July.

Rural King, a retailer of farming, outdoor and hardware equipment, opened its doors in Front Royal in September in the location of the former K-Mart. Shaun Amrine, Rural King’s general manager, was excited to get up and running. “There have been a lot of anxious folks waiting for us to open up,” he said. “When you have a couple hundred cars sitting out there, naturally they’re just going to progress in. … We’re here and we’re here to serve.”

Area entrepreneurs participated in Rev-Up Strasburg, an educational competition given by local businesspeople over several weeks. The event culminated in a pitch night, a contest in which the entrepreneurs sold their ideas to judges with grant money going to several winners. Anneise Green of Po Green’s, a barbecue and southern food restaurant, and Tammy Dellinger with Battlefield Fitness (now Crossfit Devil’s Backbone) were the big winners, taking home $15,000 each to go toward their respective businesses.

“It was a valuable experience,” Green said of Rev Up Strasburg. “There’s room for more learning but it put me on the right path to know what to look for to be successful. We knew that if we worked hard and followed the program that we had a shot to do something we’ve wanted to do for a long time… Rev Up Strasburg did a whole lot for us thus far and we’re looking to bring traffic to Strasburg with our food.”

After her victory, Green ran into some renovation issues with her proposed building and has been temporarily operating her business food truck-style in a trailer she parks in the Pot Town Organics parking lot.

The year also marked the end of an era for a Strasburg staple. Peoples Drug Store was forced to shut its doors in October after serving the town for 100 years. Owner Michelle Rimel cited issues relating to insurance company reimbursements combined with overhead and a “multitude of other reasons.” The business was purchased by Rite-Aid. The building was put up for sale.

“We just celebrated 100 years in May,” Rimel said. “We were lucky to get there and without our customers we wouldn’t have been open as long as we have been.”

At Winchester Medical Center, Ramlawi brought his specialized knowledge to the Valley Health Heart and Vascular Center in part to head Winchester Medical Center’s hybrid procedure room where minimally invasive, cutting edge heart procedures can be performed.

“We are doing a lot of specialized, higher end, more detailed and complex procedures that are going to be equivalent or better than anywhere else in the region,” Ramlawi said. “We are able to do the same operation with equal or better long-term result, through a smaller incision and a quicker recovery with less bleeding and less pain.”

The past year also saw Valley Health dedicate its new $28.5 million, 52,000-square-foot cancer treatment center in August.

“We believe this facility offers a fabulous environment to receive care,” said Mark Merrill, president and CEO of Valley Health.

A Valley Health news release said, the 52,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility offers chemotherapy and radiation treatment areas, physician practices for surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, consultation space, nutrition counseling, integrative care and a clinical research office.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.