Small business faces a tough struggle - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Small business faces a tough struggle

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Lee County Economic Development Director Winston Oxford Lee County Economic Development Director Winston Oxford
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Several small businesses shut down recently in Lee County, but economic developers say the area continues to attract new businesses.

The Moma's Pizza locations in Leesburg and on Philema Road in Albany closed Sunday. Beef O'Brady's shut down recently, and the Region's Bank branch on Highway 19 will close later this year. But leaders remain optimistic.

Those job losses come at a time of high unemployment, but economic development officials you're always going to have business turnover.

While they hate to see these businesses close their, they see some economic promise in the future.

The American Jobs Act didn't come soon enough. At lunch, the Moma's Pizza on Highway 19 in Leesburg was dark, along with the location on Philema Road. A manager told us employees found out Sunday they're out of a job.

Economic Development officials say it's tough to say goodbye to small businesses.  "It really rips my heart out to see a small entrepreneur, investors decide to move on, because I used to be one myself," said Lee County Economic Development Director Winston Oxford.

Region's Bank in Leesburg recently sent letters to customers informing them, the branch would close December 9th. The new Chick-Fil-A that should have broken ground this month in the Lee Crossing Plaza has been pushed into next year. While these are some of the casualties of the economy, there are success stories.

The new Pizza Hut, only open a month, but has found success with delivery and walk in business.

"I'd say twice or three times as much as we expected, which is a good thing," said Dexter Jordan, Pizza Hut Shift Manager.

In the same plaza, Swirl frozen yogurt is going in and another unnamed store has committed to the plaza, leaving just one vacancy. Other businesses are also seriously considering locations in Lee County.

"I've experienced some very serious activity and inquiries from actually four national chains that do not have a presence in the Albany market at present and they're considering coming and investing in the Albany market over the next year," said Oxford.

Which includes Lee County. It's a small sign, that Dougherty and Lee Counties might be making some headway even as officials say the economy remains unstable.

"I feel their pain, but I also feel a little optimisms in the air, I feel like, I'm not saying that we really made the turn but there's some good things happening I believe as far as being considered," said Oxford.

That could mean new jobs on the way for those left unemployed by recent closings.

Believe it or not Albany/Lee County market actually has the second strongest retail pull in the state. Meaning businesses here pull in customers from Worth, Terrell, and other counties, which is a draw for business.

Albany will also add several new businesses soon including a Buffalo Wild Wings, a new downtown sports bar called Booters, and a new banquet facility and convention space downtown.

 

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