Businesses come and go all the time, and for a variety of reasons. The last couple of years, unfortunately, we’ve seen more going.
Forest Park is still in the throes of a pitching economy, but there are some in town who say that life may be improving. OK. We’re listening. One of the most respected commercial real estate brokers in the area said the last three to six months have brought him more signings, better prospects and a more tangible sense that things are looking up. A respected retailer whose business in Oak Park thrived for almost two decades is ready to launch anew – and she wants to do it here, in Forest Park. Then there’s the handful of newcomers who’ve signed on in the last six months (Cyclopx, At Work Design, Bua Hanna, IComm Consulting) that give us all reason to be hopeful.
Too, there has been some bad news. With no sign that Trage Bros. is going to reopen its store at 7440 Madison, the loss of this business would leave a gaping hole that is sure to give the street a battered look. Storefronts remain empty and small business owners continue to try and survive with less.
Uncertainty is the Achilles heel of economics. But it is no reason not to try.
Confidence is crucial to moving Forest Park toward better days, and during a recent council meeting the municipality displayed a little chutzpah in agreeing to support a troubled auto dealer. Over the next 15 years, the village will return up to $1.25 million in sales tax revenue to Currie Group so that the business can reinvent itself. There are reasons not to like this deal, but the bottom line is that Forest Park cannot afford to lose a car dealership that appears to have every intention of staying in the game. Auto retailers generate too much tax revenue to simply let them go down with a whimper.
That taxpayers are on the hook for the council’s gamble may leave some feeling a little unsettled. Should the company not make it, only half of whatever has been paid by the village would be returned. Of course, a bankruptcy would change everything. It is important, though, that efforts be made to shore up the long-term financial solvency of the community. That is what this deal attempts to do.
Businesses in Forest Park need the support of the entire community if they’re to stay open. A dollar spent locally is a vote of confidence we could all use.