I’d be lying if I said the opening of a new small business on Main Street and the continued success of another way across town isn’t an encouraging sign for our local economy, albeit a small one.
It was 2009 when Adam Gwinn took a chance in the middle of the recession and opened up Monkey Punch Repairs in the Hazard Village. Fast forward three years and his business has expanded its space and its services.
Just three weeks ago, Perry County natives Jennifer Noble and Shawna Bowling opened a business of their own here in the downtown area. Their Main Street business, Py Cakes, is much needed addition to the downtown streetscape, where for the past two decades the businesses have moved elsewhere in the city or closed completely. It is excellent to see a business move to Main Street, and while their endeavor is still early on, I wish the owners of Py Cakes all the luck.
But what both Monkey Punch and Py Cakes illustrate is that with a sound idea, there is certainly room for new business in Hazard, even in the middle of a recession. The trick is simply finding a service that is needed, or one that a certain customer base would want.
In the case of Monkey Punch, while there are other computer repair services in Hazard and Perry County, the fact that most everyone owns a computer of some kind means there is certainly a need for repairs.
And with Py Cakes, I can’t think of another business with a physical location that is dedicated to making and selling gourmet cupcakes and taking orders for custom cakes of all kinds. It’s just something that we didn’t have before, especially in the downtown area.
My sincere hope is that Py Cakes will begin something special on Main Street. The city government has already expressed interest in transforming the downtown area, and have funds to help accomplish that goal in terms of the landscaping. It would be a tremendous boon to the city if Hazard’s Main Street were to recapture some of that glory of years past.
Here in Perry County we’ve already lost several jobs in the coal industry, and while these two businesses by themselves won’t make up for that, I can’t help but feel that it’s a good start in the right direction because it’s pretty clear that our coal industry impact on our local economy will never be the same as it was just a few years ago. What we’ve needed for so long is a diversification of our local economy, and while little good is going to come from the massive job loss we’re sure to see as the coal industry declines, perhaps we will get some diversity in the end.
Then again, maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. All I know is that there is room for expansion, as the above businesses have proven, but if it’s going happen it needs to happen soon before our work force moves elsewhere in search of employment.