New business helps revitalize Pine Island's downtown - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New business helps revitalize Pine Island's downtown

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PINE ISLAND, Minn. (KTTC) -

A new business in Pine Island is sowing the seeds of a plan to help revitalize the agricultural-based community's downtown.

The Little Hair Shop celebrated it's grand opening Tuesday evening with community members, the Pine Island Area Chamber of Commerce, and the mayor. 
"I'm very excited, it's a long journey," said Jesse Phelps, owner of The Little Hair Shop. "It's a lot of work in here from top to bottom, side-to-side, everybody in the family pitched in."

While Rochester is experiencing a downtown development boom, the downtowns of many small and midsized cities like Pine Island, continue to face challenges associated with urban sprawl and economic shifts that favor major metropolitan areas. Phelps' addition downtown is an effort that some say could have a blossoming effect for the entire city. 

"We got a hardware store, a flower shop, and a grocery store and all the things you have to have in a small downtown...but it's a struggle because we're not too far from a real active retail center," said Rod Steele, mayor of Pine Island.

The concept is to strengthen the core of downtown.

So there are people who graduate Pine Island High School that are very enthusiastic, energetic and intelligent and have great ideas, but, unfortunately, we lose some of those people to places like Mayo Clinic or jobs up in the cities," said Kelly Leibold, director of the city's Chamber of Commerce. "We want to show people that Pine Island is more than just a bedroom community."

"I tried venturing out to the big cities, I moved to the cities, I've been in Rochester, but I like the small town feel," said Phelps.

"We're growing, we're trying, we're experimenting, we've got new people interested in locating their business here and investing in Pine Island that's a big thing, that's a really big thing," said Steele.

Phelps officially opens her store Wednesday and hopes to one day to hire expand and hire another hair stylist.

"It seems to be growing right now, I think I picked a good time to come back and be home again."

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