Grand Falls-Windsor residents have likely noticed some new establishments popping up around town in recent months, such as some new additions in the local shopping mall and several new restaurants.
So far this year, 17 new businesses have opened. Last year, 53 enterprises were stated, and in 2012, 46 business set up shop.
According to Coun. Amy Coady Davis, chairwoman of the town’s cconomic development and tourism committee, residents might soon see even more new retail establishments coming to town.
Coady Davis said she couldn’t reveal any specific business names at this point, but there have been inquiries from both smaller and larger retail chains who have expressed interest in moving to Grand Falls-Windsor.
“We’re continuing to talk with them, information packages have been sent out, geographical maps and availability of land and areas within the community have been sent to these companies, so there’s ongoing conversations with them,” she said.
One of the most exciting leads, according to Coady Davis, is interest from several hotel chains.
The council has been saying for years there is a need for more hotel rooms in the town.
“Even up to this week there has been interest expressed by a developer who is going to be coming into town in the next little while to look at the areas that are available and would be considered a prime location for a hotel,” she said.
On the retail side, she said some stores that have expressed interest include several big box-type store chains, as well as a sports store chain.
“One of the larger chains actually (initiated) contact with us, which is positive,” she says.
Aside from some positive progress with new retailers, some existing industries have also found themselves in the position to expand.
“(We have some) community businesses who are already established who are doing well that are also looking at expansion. They’ve outgrown their existing space and they’re looking at building larger buildings to accommodate that demand for their products,” Coady Davis said.
Some examples of types of businesses looking at expansion are automotive parts retailers as well as industrial suppliers for the South Coast aquaculture industry.
“(The aquaculture industry) has been really booming out in the South Coast area and they consider Grand Falls-Windsor the hub, so they do all their business here. That’s a driving force here as well.”
Some of the new businesses that have set up shop in Grand Falls-Windsor in recent months include the recently opened Robin’s Doughnuts, 2-4-1 Pizza and A&W.
A Burger King is also under construction on Cromer Avenue and is set to open in the spring.
“Then, of course, you have the talks about Canadian Tire as well. That rumour has been going around for a while that they are expanding.
“There’s been no official confirmation, but there’s been talk within the community that that will happen, but it’s yet to be determined. Their sales are healthy, they’re under new management and the talk is there.”
While there has been an increase in new businesses for Grand Falls-Windsor, there have also been some downturns. Toromont Cat, for example, recently announced its plans to close its Grand Falls-Windsor location.
Coady Davis said, however, the overall business outlook in the town is positive.
“Housing starts are up again, and commercial starts are up, there’s hotel interest, we’ve had a lot of new businesses open and will be opening in the next couple of months, so things are going very well. We’re very happy with how Grand Falls-Windsor is progressing.”
Coady Davis said the town puts a significant amount of effort into trying to attract new companies to town, and letting retailers know Grand Falls-Windsor is open for business.
“We’re in consistant contact with businesses that we think would prosper here in the community. We still continue to attend the large retail shows and anybody who contacts us, we make sure we get the information that they’re looking for and we make sure that they have everything they need to make informed decisions.
“We do our best to promote the community and just continue to be in conversation with the decision-makers,” she said.
“We’re confident that the community will continue to grow and prosper and new businesses will follow.”