Rio Dell business vacancies decline; Chamber of Commerce credits Headwaters grant

The business vacancy rate in Rio Dell has been reduced and is expected to continue to decline with assistance from a Headwaters Fund grant. The nearly $25,000 grant was awarded in July 2013, contingent on a one-to-one match of community funding. That match was finalized in February of this year, according to Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce member Nick Angeloff.

The funding is paying for a business stimulator project in Rio Dell, Angeloff said, which provides space to multiple businesses within a single building, centralized overhead costs, and educates entrepreneurs in standard business practices.

The matching funding for the Headwaters Fund grant came from the City of Rio Dell, the Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce, and in-kind employment services at the business stimulator project.

Four of the six vacant stores on Wildwood Avenue are now occupied, and the hope it to have the remaining two filled as soon as possible. News businesses include THE MILL L.L.C., a mixed martial arts education and fitness gymnasium, and Phat Rabbit Boutique, a retail fashion store that sells a wide variety of new and consignment clothing, including men's and women's designer jeans, handbags, jewelry, and local artisan products.

"The goal (of the stimulator project) is to get people interested in conducting their business on Wildwood Avenue," Angeloff said. He said it has been offering assistance to facilitate business development through permitting help, writing business plans, and educational outreach for business entrepreneurs.

"We continue to work with existing businesses and proposed businesses, to give them a head start," Angeloff said.

The stimulator project was initiated with the location of the Chamber of Commerce, Eagle Prairie Arts District and several other businesses in the same building at 406 Wildwood Ave. in Rio Dell. The stimulator model is based on having the successful businesses remaining at their location, while the stimulator moves to another vacant building, providing advantageous business opportunities.

The overall goal eventually is to attract manufacturing businesses, according to Angeloff. "We want to promote and encourage job creation through manufacturing," he said. "We need jobs," he added, "and by encouraging manufacturing opportunities here, we can keep a local job force."

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Community participation has lowered the business vacancy rate in the city of Rio Dell, according to Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce member Nick Angeloff.