May 15—Before the COVID-19 pandemic, several new businesses were opening in Logansport. Even as things slowed during the last year, some businesses still opened.
And now that the pandemic seems to be entering the final stages as guidelines are loosened, there's been a lot of noticeable growth with spring.
Since March Planet Fitness and Mr. Chips and Salsa on the east side of town have opened, and Scooter's sandwiches, Sage and Tonic and Lynne's Creationz have opened in the downtown area.
The Record Farm moved into a bigger downtown office, and Split Road Media moved into its old storefront next to the State Theater. Bonus Pints is set to open in summer behind the new Record Farm, and the Old Style Inn downtown is re-opening.
On the west end of town, there's the new ice cream place Olly and Wally's at 15 E. Linden Ave., and just east of downtown, Dollar General opened a specialty store featuring produce and expanded grocery options in the old Family Video building.
And there are about 24 projects coming, said Bill Cuppy, President of the Cass/Logansport Economic Development Organization and the Cass County/Logansport Chamber of Commerce.
Although it's too early for him to go into specifics, they do range from retail to the food industry to the professional sector and need to be far in the process to be considered a project and not merely interested.
"We have just as much going on currently as we did before COVID," possibly more, Cuppy said.
He sees this growth spurt as a continuation of what was happening before the impact of COVID-19.
"It slowed some things down because things like construction material were hard to come by," he said.
There were also businesses that closed down, notably restaurants that opened just before or during the pandemic.
"It's hard to know what we can attribute to COVID and what we can't," Cuppy said. "It hasn't deterred people from opening. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. They tend to be creative and aggressive, even in hard times."
The pandemic also had some advantages.
"A lot of planning happened in the last year," Cuppy said. "When you can't go places and do things, it gives you more time than you usually have."
So why is Logansport seeing more development than many other towns, some larger?
Mayor Chris Martin and Cuppy both see it as the old adage: success breeds success.
"It's because they [developers] see other things happening," said Martin. "Anytime you see progress, you want to be part of it. We've got projects at every end of the city, and I think people want to be part of that success."
Businesses want to know why other businesses are coming here, Cuppy said.
"Our best marketing tool is our progress."
It helps that Logansport has good logistics, making it easy to transport things to other places, and the cost of living here is low.
People like that the homes aren't "cookie cutter" identical, and the sense of history, the trails and the quality of life are also attractive.
And there are the Eel and Wabash rivers.
"You can't make two rivers surround you. Some things you're just blessed with," Cuppy said.
The attention the city is giving the downtown is helping, too.
Both Jody Achey of Sage and Tonic and Blanca Mendez of Lynne's said they feel that downtown is the place to be now.
New retail is the most visible growth, but there's more behind the scenes.
"Our largest growth is coming with our existing manufacturing industry," Cuppy said. "Many businesses are expanding in both personnel and facilities."
It's not just business that is growing in Logansport.
Cuppy said there are about 10 housing and park projects in the works.
Housing remains a problem, both apartments and houses, and a survey of major employers confirmed that. Housing not only attracts employees, it benefits the city to not depend on commuting workers.
"We don't gain them living here, so we don't capture their taxes or their shopping," Cuppy said. "We want people to move here and not because someone is moving away."
He's working with three different apartment projects in three different areas of the city.
There are also two developers vying for the parking lot on the south side of Market Street near Little Turtle Waterway plaza, and the city is vetting them.
"We're fortunate to have two developers vying for that spot," Cuppy said.
There's also Lexington Village housing project near Walmart and Mary Max Cinema.
"Bright days are ahead for the city of Logansport," said Martin. "I see it only getting better."
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at email@example.com or 574-732-5117