I attended the grand opening of Mattress Firm at the Mall yesterday. Another new business opening and another sign that life in Middletown is slowly returning to normal. Towne Boulevard is being widened and repaved. The luxury apartments down by Walmart should be starting this summer. AK Steel will be breaking ground next month on the new Research and Innovation Center. NTE should begin construction on a $500 million power plant this summer. We should start construction within the next few months on a gas station/restaurant site at the old putt putt at the end of the northbound I-75 exit ramp.
Some people look at what we have right now. I tend to look at what is coming. Downtown has more business openings now than in the ten years I’ve been with the City. I occasionally hear the naysayer talking about how new businesses won’t make it in Middletown. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’ve always heard that something like 80% of new businesses fail within the first five years. I wish all of our new businesses success and hope that Middletown residents will support and buy from local businesses when possible. However, if any particular business fails, I’m not ready to say it was because of the City or its residents. The fact that downtown buildings are starting to fill up with new business is a more telling sign that things are recovering than the particular success or failure of any given business. In fact, if the numbers are true, up to 80% of existing newer businesses could fail in the next five years. If vacancy rates continue to drop and new businesses continue to fill voids in the downtown and other retail areas despite those setbacks, then we are, in fact, getting stronger.
I am a realist but I am not a pessimist. Revenues to the City are running at about 2007 levels right now. That’s the strongest numbers we’ve seen since before the recession. Things are better, but not great. We’ll get to great.
We welcome Mattress Firm to Middletown. Their brand new building and business along SR 122 is a decision by that company to believe in Middletown and its future.