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Chamber: Retail growth expected to continue

By Matthew Kent, Chillicothe Gazette
Published Dec. 5, 2015

CHILLICOTHE - Continued retail growth is expected to continue in 2016 as local officials say this year proved to be a good one for Chillicothe, especially with the opening of several new stores at the Guernsey Crossing shopping mall that has created additional jobs in the area.

Randy Davies, president and CEO of the Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce, said the city continues to be a hub for retail business that can be seen along Bridge Street and other areas within the community such as downtown, the west side and even within some villages within Ross County.

"As stores continue to build and continue to expand, restaurants continue to open and see additional traffic flow coming into the area, so I think as 2016 moves through as the market drives that, I think we'll continue to see some moderate growth," Davies said.

Davies said the reason behind his thinking of moderate growth is based on the fact that it is all "market driven."

"As we continue to see growth and traffic expand, I think that's when you'll see retail business continue to expand as long as the economy holds and we're seeing people spending the money ... but additional strip malls or additional complexes being built, it's hard to tell if that's in the immediate future," he said. "We've probably seen as much large growth right now for at least a couple of years."

Guernsey Crossing, which is anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods and includes Five Guys Burger and Fries, Petco, Ulta Beauty, Panera Bread and other stores, opened earlier this year along North Bridge Street, the city's major area for retail establishments such as J.C. Penney, Sears, Dunham's Sporting Goods, among others. Davies said while Bridge Street has always continued to do well and constantly sees change with new stores opening up, downtown Chillicothe has also seen some positive changes as well.

"The downtown area is really starting to become a destination for antique stores and craft stores, with unique shops that are being opened and restaurants and some other establishments that are looking at being downtown ... and that's a market we've talked about forever, but we've not seen a growth where there's actual development that's starting to take place," Davies said. "So I think as the renaissance began in 2015, you're going to continue to see construction and reconstruction in 2016."

While the Columbus region continues to be a regional attraction from several surrounding locations, Davies said he thinks Chillicothe "is on the verge of becoming a destination for specialty shops, for antique shops and those unique areas that the Columbus market just cannot have." Yet, Chillicothe remains unique in its own way compared to other locations elsewhere, he added.

"When you have a metropolitan city or a metropolitan developer building stores or structures that look like our town already, we've got that. We have the look and feel that developers are building to attract people to their location, so now we just have to get what we already have filled," Davies said.

He also said there is a "focused effort for community growth" moving forward, noting that instead of hoping things will come here, there will be more of a community effort concerning future development that will involve discussions about revitalizing certain areas, whether it involves retail or residential projects.

"Whether it's over the next year or over the next 10 years, that is a good starting point for continued growth," he said. "The way you continue growth is you work with your major employers and those who have vested interest in making sure the community continues to grow not only for their own business, but for employees' livelihood, so you keep families living here and you keep communities growing and you keep strong schools ... and I think it's really going to continue with that developed growth that we've hoped for, but really haven't been able to target and market."

Still, Davies said the outlook continues to remain positive.

"We've had great success not only in the last year, but the last couple of years and as we continue to work together and help our area grow, it's only going to benefit us to move forward and become a stronger community here in central Ohio," he said.

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