Sault shines this spring with business growth

Over in Sault Ste. Marie, the spring has meant major growth across several sectors of business, both the traditional large company kind and the entrepreneurial small-business kind.


The town's clearly attracting the right kind of investment, attention and energy this year, and there's no doubt there will be more to come before 2017 is over. But here's a roundup of the new growth so far.


In April, community and economic mainstay Lake Superior State University cut the ribbon on its newly renovated and re-named R. W. Considine Hall (formerly South Hall). The building will mainly house the school's Lukenda School of Business, which is a growing segment of the university's enrollment.


Considine Hall renovations totaled about $13.5 million, $9 million of which was granted from the state of Michigan to redo the 44,000-square-foot building and update it into modern classrooms and offices. It was built in the early 1900s as a barracks for Fort Brady. Classes started there this spring.


"This is a very exciting time for the Lukenda School of Business. We're now firmly poised to take our already strong program to the next level, with a high-tech, state-of-the-art facility to support our efforts," says David Finley, dean of the LSSU College of Business and Engineering. "With so many of our graduates garnering leadership positions in northern Michigan and Ontario companies, the completed R.W. Considine Hall will support sustainable economic development throughout the region for many years to come."


Downtown in Sault Ste. Marie, April also saw a ribbon cutting for a new fitness and nutrition business, just in time to get healthy for summer activities. Up North Nutrition and Gym 906 are located at 327 Ashmun, and are owned by Caity and Phil Woolcocks. Some of the services the new business provides include a full-service gym, tanning beds, and nutritional and health supplements.


To round out April, the new Hampton Inn welcomed the Sault Area Chamber of Commerce to a ribbon cutting and gathering to christen the hotel, which is on the I-75 Business Spur in Sault Ste. Marie.


In May, all the news around town was about the new Meijer store coming in, also on the I-75 Business Spur at 293 West 3 Mile Road. Complete with gas station, Starbucks, 24-hour shopping and 192,000 square feet of retail space the likes of which the U.P. is not accustomed to, Meijer cut its ribbon in mid-May and has been hopping ever since. (The Grand Rapids company also opened one in Escanaba to similar interest.) The jobs number added to the Sault area was projected around 300.


And, as Meijer opened, two businesses announced new locations in the superstore; Huntington Bank and War Memorial Hospital.


The War Memorial Hospital FastCare Clinic is now open in the front of Meijer, offering basic health care services for minor conditions and symptoms on a walk-in basis. The hospital describes the clinic as convenient and economical for patients and families in the area, with a direct connection to the Meijer pharmacy and for those with a high deductible or no insurance, office visits cost just $69.


"War Memorial is very excited to be able to bring healthcare service into the new Meijer store to provide more availability and convenience for our community," says War Memorial Hospital's VP of Nursing and Operations, Marla Bunker. "We strive to continue to deliver high quality care and service excellence in all our care, with WMH FastCare the services will allow us to get the patient in and out quickly."


The clinic will be open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and even will offer Christmas and New Year's hours.


The new Huntington Bank branch located inside the new Meijer also should boost that bank's business in the area.


Also this spring, Sault Ste. Marie became home to several new small businesses, opening in time for the busy tourist and foot traffic season. All located downtown, these three new additions to the Sault's friendly, homegrown vibe should make visitors and residents alike happy.


Monocle Jewelers has opened up in the location of the former Ryan's Jewelry, at 400 Ashmun. Owner Ryan Morley put some elbow grease into his new enterprise, with a new look in the same space. Monocle Jewelers is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. downtown and offers fine jewelry, watches and gifts.


One block down, another business is revamped with new ownership, as the former Grooves Music has now become Crooked Music, owned by Zac and Christie Crook. Located at 540 Ashmun, the music store offers musical instruments and equipment, vinyl records, and accessories.


Finally, across from the Soo Locks, new seasonal restaurant Oh Crepe! opened its doors at 341 W. Portage. Owned by Zak and Korina McClellan, the menu includes a wide selection of crepes, from sweet to savory, and from traditional to wild.


It seems unlikely that that'll be the end of new businesses for the year in the Sault, as it certainly looks like local economic development and entrepreneurship support initiatives are bearing good fruit in the area.

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