ELDRIDGE, Iowa (KWQC) – While some small towns in the QCA have struggled to fill their vacant buildings with business, another is thriving. Eldridge is attracting some shops to move in and others to build from scratch. Assistant city administrator James Martin says downtown is nearly at full capacity. Just four years ago, though, it was pretty quiet.
“We had a lot of vacant buildings,” Martin said. “We had a lot of places that looked like they were getting run down.”
Within the last year, almost a dozen new businesses have opened.
“The Eastern Iowa Baking Company, we’ve had a new florist move in, we had a pet grooming business downtown,” Martin said, adding that a new photography shop, bank, and others, have moved in, too.
Martin says the newest business in Eldridge is Vibrant Credit Union, which is scheduled to open next week.
“We recently actually lost one business that is moving out of town, Winners Pizza,” he said. “However, it is being replaced with Sip’s coffee.”
A new strip mall in a brand new building is also on the way. It’s located on the site where Del’s Restaurant burned down a few years ago.
“At one end it will be Porter’s Insurance, and then the other sections are sub-dividable, so there will be some office space, some space possibly for a restaurant or a drive through,” Martin said.
The downtown isn’t the only area that’s growing. Dooley’s restaurant, just eight weeks old, is located on the eastern side of 61.
“We’re both retired and we didn’t want to just sit at home and so we started the business,” co-owner Debbie Dooley said.
But business is actually off to a slow start.
“Once people know we’re here and they come out and try our food, I know they’ll be back,” co-owner Dan Dooley added.
Still, the Dooleys say they’re excited to have joined the business community at this time.
“It’s good for everybody, you know, good business,” Dooley said. “New business is good for all businesses.”
Martin says there’s no exact recipe for the city’s success, but he says around half of the new business owners are from the area.
“Anytime you can grow from within it’s wonderful,” he said.
And he says the rest were once visitors who were able to recognize the small town’s potential for even more growth.