Why is Business Booming in Strongsville?
Retail is thriving here despite the stagnant economy
When Janet Yurcik decided it was time to expand the home-based bakery business she and her mom ran, she chose a storefront in Strongsville.
"It is a continuously growing community that more and more people are considering as a great place for shopping," Yurcik said.
She and her mom, Marcia Rehak, haven't had a moment of regret since opening the Cute Little Cake Shop in December.
"Business has been better than we ever could have imagined," Yurcik said. "We have been selling out every day since Day 1."
It's no secret the economy has taken a toll on small businesses across the country.
But you'd hardly know it looking at Strongsville's thriving retail and industrial community, which has boomed while those in other suburbs have struggled.
The reason? A little luck, hard work and a plan, officials say.
"We've worked hard to have a business-friendly reputation," Economic Development Director Brent Painter said.
The city has become a haven for start-ups over the last couple years.
"You can see it in Strongsville right now -- there's a buzz," Painter said. "There's so much activity going on here, business owners notice it and want to see what's going on."
Location doesn't hurt, of course. Interstate 71 and the Ohio Turnpike run through Strongsville, a convenience retailers and industry owners like for their shoppers and employees.
A mall isn't a bad asset, either. Businesses have sprouted around Westfield SouthPark, and the nearby Plaza at SouthPark quickly drew major tenants like Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy.
But, Painter said, it's more than that. The city has cultivated a business-friendly reputation that starts in Mayor Tom Perciak's office and extends through the building and engineering departments.
"When (commercial and industrial) real estate agents feel comfortable doing business here, they'll send clients to Strongsville," Painter said.
Yurcik said the city -- and Painter in particular, who she called "really a great help and source of answers" -- made the daunting process of opening a business easier.
"You have to make sure you're helpful," Painter said. "I think other cities aren't as focused on the customer service aspect of economic development."
Building a Business Base
There's no denying business breeds business. A look at activity here over the last year tells the story.
The former Palate restaurant has been replaced by the brand new DC Pasta Co. Rosewood Grill will fill one of the last vacant storefronts in the Plaza at SouthPark this summer. Master Pizzeria at Bennett's Corners is expanding next door with a family-friendly bar and grill. La Kabob, a Lebanese restaurant, opened last May at 14228 Pearl Rd., next to Cold Stone Creamery and Antonio's Pizza.
The Royal Center plaza on Pearl Road is starting to attract tenants, and Sweet Kiddles, a drop-in child-care center, is planning to open soon. Family Video opened in a vacant storefront nearby. Malley's, Dunkin' Donuts and First Federal of Lakewood opened in a brand new plaza farther north on Pearl.
Rockne's and Chick-fil-A built new restaurants on Royalton Road, and Discount Drug Mart is wrapping up construction. A few others that opened: Conte's Cafe, Jimmy John's, Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Hibachi and United Art and Education.
"Just look what Giant Eagle wants to invest here," Painter said. "We're very lucky."
Plenty of Support
Planning also played a role in Strongsville's retail and industrial success, Painter said.
"When they laid out the community, they set up a lot of industrial land and room for shopping centers to grow," he said.
It has all melded into an atmosphere where Yurcik can talk, three months after opening, about expanding.
The community and other local businesses have been very supportive," she said. "I am amazed at how much people will really go out of their way to support a local business. They realize how important small businesses are to the community."