Niles losing Ace Hardware, eight jobs
By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Ace Hardware, located in River Front Square, 60 E. Main St. in downtown Niles, is closing.
As a result, eight employees will lose their jobs.
The last day of business is Dec. 6, only weeks before Christmas.
Wilfong said the store is losing money because few patrons are buying big-dollar items.
Wilfong said it's been hard to even break even lately.
Ace Hardware in Niles is owned by Chip Borre, who also owns other Ace Hardware stores in the area.
The eight jobs lost, however, won't affect the number of jobs the city must create to turn a 780,000 Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) loan/grant into a grant, said Juan Ganum, the city's community development director.
The $780,000 will be turned into a grant if the city can create 39 jobs on Main Street before September 2005.
If they fail to create those jobs, they will have to pay back the money at a rate of $20,000 per job not created.
A base report, submitted to the MEDC after the city learned it would receive the funding, defined what downtown businesses are to be included when counting the number of jobs created downtown in September of 2005.
Because of high business activity in River Front Square -- which often means a high turn-over rate -- all businesses located in the building were deliberately kept off the base report, which was submitted in Sept. 2002, Ganum said.
Even though the eight lost jobs won't affect the MEDC loan/grant, the city still has to create 30 new full-time jobs before reaching their goal of having created the 39 new full-time jobs within the MEDC time limit.
Ganum said since submitting the base report, 22 full-time jobs have been created in four blocks of downtown.
Twelve jobs, however, have also been lost, which currently leaves the number of full-time jobs created at nine.
But Ganum is optimistic about the future of the downtown area.
There has been an increasing amount of activity downtown and people involved with the downtown revitalization project are getting more phone calls from people who are interested in either opening up business or investing in property, he said.
Secondly, more of the already existing businesses are making improvements to their own buildings, Ganum said.
He thinks downtown businesses are making investments because they see the city is also investing money into the area.
Michele Boyd, Downtown Development Authority chair, said there are already prospects for the site currently occupied by Ace Hardware.
However, after Wednesday's DDA meeting, she is currently unable to say who those prospects are.
But despite Ace Hardware going out of business, like Ganum, Boyd also thinks there is increased business activity downtown.
And, she thinks "quite a few" things will happen in the downtown area in the future.
The downtown revitalization renovation project started in early June this year.
Since then, a cafe and a walk in gallery has opened on Front Street, and the Four Flags Antique Mall has put in new windows.
In addition, Dr Toby Mitchell has opened his new chiropratic and wellness clinic on Third Street.
And, this week a new health food store opens on Mains Street.