AVON LAKE, Ohio — This year has been tough for small business owners around the country. Thousands of them have closed citing the pandemic as their reasoning. But in Avon Lake, the city's economic development director Ted Esborn said, small businesses are thriving.
"We are very proud to be able to say that we've opened more businesses during the pandemic than have closed. So it's actually been a good year for business openings," Esborn said.
Esborn said nearly 10 new businesses have opened from March until present time with about five closings. He added that most of the new businesses are small and locally owned, which aligns with what he called the heart of the city's local economy.
While new businesses forge their own paths to success, Esborn and other city representatives are working with established business owners and developers in town collecting feedback to improve the relationship between owners and the city of Avon Lake.
"We're distilling that information, and, you know, looking at things that we can do to just make it a more positive experience and one that builders, developers, architects would share with their professional communities about the city of Avon Lake," Esborn said.
Esborn said so far during their work, the committee has gathered that communication is the largest area where business owners and developers believe the city can improve.
"It's a work in progress but as the economic development director I am very pleased that we're taking these steps and undergone this effort," he said.
One of the new businesses who worked with Esborn was Maker Space Studios, located on Avon Belden Rd. next to Salad KraZe. Christine Scott opened the space at the beginning of October.
"Everything just fell into place," Scott said. "I went into the pandemic looking for a job but once the pandemic hit I couldn't find one, even though I have education. So, I just decided I'm going to make my own job."
Scott said she's always had aspirations to open a boutique but when a maker space studio idea was proposed, she was intrigued. "I was blown away by the idea," she said. "So I decided the boutique would be phase two."
The Maker Space Studios manager Jo Lafebvre said the space can be considered a one-stop-shop for anyone who wants to create art and experience a sense of community.
"Art is for everybody," she said. "We want to bring art together as a therapy and I think people need therapy right now. We want people to be comfortable. We want it to be a safe space."
Inside the shop, artists can create their own pieces using the common equipment during open DIY hours or visitors can attend a teacher-led class. Maker Space Studios is currently offering paint and sip classes, jewelry making among others.
"It's slow but surely but I expected that. I was fully prepared but, it's actually going faster than I thought," Scott said. "I am having so much fun. There are some days when no one comes in and it's a little discouraging but you just pick yourself up and keep going."
Scott said her dreams of opening a boutique will come true in mid-November. The shop will sell handmade items like glass goods, jewelry, soaps and jams made by local vendors and artists.
Click here to learn more about Maker Space Studios.