Feedback and Input Requested: What Businesses or Services Would You Like to See in Northfield?

Many of our discussion threads veer off in the direction of, “What Northfield really needs is a ____________.” Now would be a particularly significant time to devote a whole post and discussion to the topic.

The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation‘s “E.R. Team” has been working on some new initiatives in the areas of business expansion and recruitment, gathering data from a report by Dahlgren Shardlow Uban in 2003 and an NDDC Input-Gathering Session held in 2006. (I hope they’re also factoring in the target industry sectors which were recommended in the 2006 TIP Strategies Economic Development Plan.)

To see if there are new suggestions, and to confirm that the existing ideas still hold water despite the economic brouhaha, I’d like to ask: “What business(es) would you like to see added to Northfield? and/or “What kind of new business(es) would thrive in Northfield?”

Thoughts and comments?

71 thoughts on “Feedback and Input Requested: What Businesses or Services Would You Like to See in Northfield?”

  1. I’d like to know why the enthusiastic young man — a proud Ole — who planned a cinema two years ago suddenly withdrew, when he had so many successful theaters in other towns. He never spoke publicly about it, and it’s a mystery, especially when he had the land and plans in place.

  2. Patrick & Bruce: How about Jesse James Lager & Cole Younger Porter? We are indeed looking into the feasibility of establishing a small micro-brewery here. Interested in investing (pass the word)?

  3. Norman,
    Throw in a Sasquatch Scottish Ale and I’m in! Seriously, I’d love to talk with anyone interested in developing a local microbrewery. I think a group of local investors would be a distinct possibility.

    I just had a fascinating meeting with a Twin Cities entrepreneur who is developing a biodiesel-production business based on growing algae. One of the hurdles is finding a low-cost source of carbon dioxide to feed the algae. I suggested coupling his venture with a microbrewery on the same site…

  4. Norm,
    That’s great news! I hope your plans come together, and I’ll happily partake of the fruits of your labors. If your plans also include turning the Cow into a full-service restaurant, that’d be so much the better.

    Unfortunately, I have two good reasons not to invest in your business:
    1) The only thing I have to offer at the moment is a fairly large debt load, and
    2) Noone in my family has shown any good judgement in investing – least of all me. I wouldn’t want to curse your endeavors with my black mark, and for my sake I’m currently sticking with fairly diversified stuff through my 401k.

  5. commenting late in the game, but…
    norm – yes, brew beer! great idea. i like the names, too.

    suuuuuushi!: heck yeah! i don’t think i would ever leave town. thai is good, too.

    toys: sweet peas has great old fashioned and modern toys. i see kids walk by the store excited to head into sweet pea, so whoever is looking for toys, you should check it out. and yes – The Sketchy Artist has toys, too! our two stores are pretty different in what we carry as far as toys go, so i’d say it depends on the kids (or parents). but please support what already exists!

    office supplies: i do carry a small selection of office supplies at The Sketchy Artist, but i have been reluctant to expand on it mainly because i’ve watched so many people poo-poo it saying (out loud) that they’d rather go to target and save 25 cents. i’d love to be able to compete with target’s prices, but i dare not order 6 cases of magic tape in order to get a price reduction. well, that is unless i knew 40 people a day would be coming in for tape…
    but i do have the basics, and i am very open to suggestions. plus, what i don’t have i can always order for someone. which brings me to another point. if you don’t see it in northfield, don’t hesitate to have a conversation with store owners. you may be surprised about what they can get. or at least try 😉

    oh, and i love the idea of servicing mac computers. please?? esp with the colleges around. do you know how many students have macs? oh, right – the colleges each have their own computing departments. oh well.

  6. Hey David L, I see you have a commentary in the Chamber News titled We need many kinds of businesses here, published this week’s Nfld News. (Is it available on the Nfld News or the Chamber’s web site? I couldn’t find it.) You wrote:

    In a recent blog on Locally Grown, Tracy Davis asked readers what kind of businesses they would like to see in Northfield. Almost everyone mentioned his or her personal favorites, such as a Thai restaurant, sushi bar, music store, and other businesses that cater primarily to a lifestyle known on Locally Grown as a bourgeoisie bohemian (bobo) lifestyle. Without diminishing the attractiveness of such bobo businesses, the reality is that Northfield also needs businesses like College City Beverage, Taylor Trucking, Ryt-Way, Malt-O-Meal, and yes, Target and Cub.

    I think it’s pretty understandable that in an informal brainstorming discussion, people would mention retail-type businesses, rather than say, “I think we really need a Seagate disk drive manufacturing plant!” or some such.

    Bruce Anderson did mention both “clean energy technology manufacturing” as well as “biodiesel-production” here in this discussion.  

    Lest your readers get the idea that LoGroNo is only bobo-business-focused, I’d like to remind you that:

    So while we’re bobos on the outside, deep down, we’re much more well-rounded. 😉



  7. Shouldn’t we just try to make Northfield business friendly and let the market speak on the type of business that could come here.

    Businesses will come if the financial and logistic conditions are right and if there is a market for their goods.

    Brain storming about businesses makes everybody feel good, but it doesn’t serve reality.

  8. Griff: Maybe “we” bobos ought to turn ourselves inside out so that that well-rounded is on the outside, and the bobo is way deep down.

  9. Griff: I would point out the two different questions Tracy posed: What type of businesses would thrive in Northfield, and what businesses would you like to see in Northfield.

    First, and foremost, there must be a healthy business environment for the businesses that we have here. That is what the Chamber is about – dealing with the businesses that are thriving in Northfield, and working on making them even more thriving.

    Second, as a community, “we” need to get over the idea that what businesses “we would like to see” makes any difference for business growth. As Peter said, businesses come (or thrive) for financial and logistics reasons. So, why do “we” care what all the NIMPU’s want? That is not how business decisions are made. Both Target and Present Perfect decide what Northfield “needs” by what people will buy.

    Right now, the community needs more business property tax income (and jobs, low paying or otherwise) – and not just by raising taxes.

    Griff: I appreciate the attention that you have given to trying to present a balanced view. But a half of a dozen stories over the course of a year is not enough to turn a bobo inside out.

  10. It appears site work is being done on the land behind Target, along Jefferson Road. The sidewalk is closed, and grading stakes are popping up like spring flowers. Is this an expansion of the business park across the street or a new project? And there’s a building under construction on the final lot in the existing park. That’s really good news.
    IMHO, it’s great for the city to make longer term plans near the hospital, but it is vital to develop the infill sites already available around town.

  11. Anne – Tracy can probably say more as a member of the Planning Commission, but the Jasnoch’s PUD (Planned Unit Development) was approved by the Council a week or so ago. The development planned as a mixed use development with future retail and commercial along Jefferson Road and the apartment complex now being built along Heritage Drive.

    I agree with Anne about infill and this site has long been talked about as “mixed use” but various attempts to define a mixed use zoning district have failed. Now, with a new Comp Plan and land development regualtions on the horizon, it appears we’re making progress.

    This development, according to the staff reports (see the Council packet for 8/25 has been designed to comply with or incorporate the form-based features of the new Comprehensive Plan with an emphasis on the relation of the building to the street, sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities, etc. I’m excited about seeing what develops, so to speak.

  12. Thanks for the details, Griff and Felicity. When you look at the spaces available in town, there are lots of possibilities for small business start-ups. Some need remodeling, others need redevelopment, others are empty lots. Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘to-do’ list, then have everyone in the city and business leadership focusing on getting them done. Working through the list certainly builds momentum and creates a positive attitude.
    The harder part is going to be finding those larger spaces David L. and Ray Cox note are needed for distribution centers and light industry. And maybe the business park is the way to handle that. But getting a little practice can’t hurt.

Leave a Reply