Building Business in Gallia County

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Businesses in Gallia County are coming together to try and help other businesses get on their feet or remodel.

It's a push by the "Digital River" project to boost the economy and create jobs in the county.

On Saturday, B & E Shoe Repair, a mom-and-pop shoe store in Gallipolis, held a grand re-opening after volunteers worked with Digital River to remodel the store in less than two days.

The work began after the close of business on Thursday and continued through Saturday morning. The store owners held a ribbon-cutting ceremony just after noon.

"It's been quite an ordeal, but everything's coming out pretty good," Steve Stapleton, whose parents own B & E, said.

Stapleton's parents, Bill and Edith, have owned the shop since 1969.

The family has wanted to remodel the store for awhile, but after working a 12-hour-day, Stapleton said even cleaning can be difficult.

"I tripped over a dust bunny in there the other day, it was so big," Stapleton joked.

Doing the remodeling work without help would mean the store had to close for a week. With help, though, the process was much quicker.

"We really went to work, painting walls and priming walls and washing and cleaning," Stapleton said.

"Aassuming the flooring's all dry, they'll be back open for business Monday morning," Jimmy Wiseman, who heads up the Digital River committee, said.

Wiseman said the group's goal was originally to bring high-tech jobs to Gallia County.

Now, the group's goal is to "foster entrepreneurship and innovation here in Gallia County."

"We want to help the existing businesses here as well, and that's why we're here at B & E Shoe Repair today," Wiseman said. "It's a longtime business, opened in 1969, that really needed some help to spruce up their business and we were glad to help."

Wiseman said he wants to see more people move back to the county and to Gallipolis in particular, in order to hit the 5,000-person threshold it must reach to qualify as a city.

"The more people living in town, the more tax dollars, the more things the city can do, the more people there are to shop in the local businesses," Wiseman said.

Bill Stapleton, the owner of B & E, said he thinks the project at his store is great and hopes other owners will take notice.

"We've got several empty buildings and maybe somebody else will be encouraged," he said.

Wiseman said the group also wants to fund new startup businesses.

"We understand the success rate is going to be low and maybe they can't seek funding through traditional loans, mortgages, their own personal money," he said. "We want to be able to step in and help those people out."

Digital River works with money and donations from Gallia County businesses to help renovate or refurbish existing businesses or start new ones.

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