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10-18-2007, 11:44 PM
Article published Oct 18, 2007



NORTH PORT'S PLANNING PHASES


North Port businesses foundering
By JOHN DAVIS



john.davis@heraldtribune.com

NORTH PORT -- As local leaders ate country club lunches and celebrated North Port's new plan to energize the economy, the All American Cafe waited for customers, unsure if the business would last the month.

Opened this summer, the All American, an ice cream and doughnut shop, might shut down months before the city launches an effort to boost the local economy, lure businesses and create jobs.

North Port's economic development campaign calls for advisory committees, a "community communication strategy" and a newly hired development manager. But it will take months to implement.

Meanwhile, Cassandra Schultz's restaurant is part of a local economy that, despite all of the recent cheerleading, is foundering now.

Schultz, who rents the space for her 30-seat restaurant, did not realize how much the startup would cost. She was shocked at the $44,000 price tag for permits and impact fees.

Now Schultz and her brother, who co-owns the restaurant, are $23,000 behind on rent.

"I'm looking for an investor," she said, noting that the unanticipated costs and construction delays threw off her business plan.

City leaders have long talked about developing a small business incubator as one of the pieces in North Port's plan to boost the local economy, to help keep entrepreneurs such as Schultz in business.

City Manager Steve Crowell noted that the real estate slump and construction slowdown that set in more than a year ago are not North Port's fault.

At the same time, the city has decided to actively promote economic development, forming a plan that is supposed to nurture small fish like Schultz and lure bigger ones, including manufacturers that would create many jobs.

The City Commission will consider the economic development plan next week. If approved, it will lead to more meetings and committees with goals such as researching, by next April, the "potential for a business incentive program," according to the plan's outline.

Supporters say that coming up with a plan, getting community buy-in and setting up the infrastructure for ongoing economic development takes time.

It has already taken considerable time. When the city's new economic development manager, Allan Lane, starts work in January, he will fill a job that has been vacant two years.

"We've been kind of ragged here the last couple of years," Commissioner Fred Tower said at Wednesday's unveiling of the strategic plan, a luncheon long on talk about the future and short on critiquing the present.

Developer Todd Menke said Lane should start earlier. Lee Gross, a local doctor who, with partners, is planning to build medical offices and an emergency room here, bemoaned impact fees.

Lane is supposed to spend early next year educating the public on economic issues. By the end of 2008, the city is supposed to "identify and develop strategies to improve business climate issues," the plan states.

While the current business climate is challenging for Schultz and others now, many consider North Port's long-term economic prospects to be very good, based on its population of more than 50,000 and plenty of room for more businesses.

"Looking at it from 5,000 feet in the air, this is a happening place," said Kay Tracy, with the Charlotte County Economic Development Office, one of the many groups North Port is planning to work with in the coming year.

Schultz hopes to be around for the bright future, if she can come up with a way to catch up on rent.

"Hopefully, all of this will work out," she said. "I'm going to keep trying, that's for sure."



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10-19-2007, 12:27 AM
I feel bad for this business owner but this is not a problem created by North Port. If you read the article the business owner stated that they were unaware of the start up cost, that is poor planning and not the fault of the City. You just cannot expect to jump into a business with out understanding the risks. In every City the problem exists with small business. The fact is that we have become a society that supports large corporations, not the little guy. I am still amazed that the Ace Hardeware store is still open since The Home Depot came here.

10-19-2007, 12:47 AM
listen we work in a po dunk pit and who in there right mind would start a shop in this town. this town is going down and i am looking for higher ground.....real soon.

Old Guy
10-19-2007, 01:39 AM
This city has done the same in the past. Years ago you could buy a vacant lot for $500 and three acres out in the estates for $15,000. Things just priced themselves out too quickley a couple of years ago. It's a buyers market now which will turn into a sellers market again in a few years. Look at all the building that is still going on around us. It's only the prices that have stopped everyone, but that will change.

10-19-2007, 09:29 AM
listen we work in a po dunk pit and who in there right mind would start a shop in this town. this town is going down and i am looking for higher ground.....real soon.

You don't seem to be looking fast enough!

10-19-2007, 11:38 AM
well spd will be calling soon or sso

10-19-2007, 05:53 PM
well spd will be calling soon or sso

I hope so, you are just filled with negativity. The problem is, it will follow you where ever you go.

10-19-2007, 08:01 PM
well spd will be calling soon or sso

I hope they call you real soon for that dispatcher or jailer's position, cuz you ain't no cop here!

10-19-2007, 08:38 PM
really sure about that skippy :shock:

10-21-2007, 12:34 AM
Yes I am...I know anyone in this Department that would dare to use traffic cop as a name. The only refernce you can ever use as a traffic cop is when you look in the mirror and get lit up by one of them. So go play on another web site...Say....Wannabe.com!