As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many businesses are scheduled to reopen during the “Healthy at Work” movement and have been taking steps in preparation of welcoming customers back to in-person services. As expected, said city and county officials, some businesses will not be opening back up and will remain permanently closed. Although the city and county are both losing businesses, local officials said they have not lost hope, and are focusing on the growth coming from the situation.
Some of the businesses that will be closing permanently and/or have filed for bankruptcy include Ponderosa, Whayne Supply, Gordmans and the Miller Family Fun Center.
“It's sad. Anytime that we lose a business in this town it is sad and it hurts,” said Hazard Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini, stating that each of the closing businesses meant a lot to the area.
Whayne's Supply, he said, has been around for more than 20 years, so it is unfortunate to see such a long-standing business go.
“I hate that Ponderosa has closed,” said Mobelini. “Not only does it hurt us, but all of our civic organizations. Any time you shut something down for kids in this town (it's sad).”
Hazard City Manager Derrick Hall agreed that the loss of the businesses was unfortunate, and said things are constantly changing.
“The economy has changed,” said Hall. “All the companies across the country are having to adjust to the change in the economic climate.” This is especially true, he said, in businesses such as Whayne Supply, which had a 70 percent reduction in sales.
While local officials said they will miss the businesses that are closing, they are hopeful for the future and the growth that has continued throughout the pandemic.
“On the other hand, there is some new growth,” said Mobelini. “We have places shutting down, but Bailey (Richards, the downtown coordinator), every day, is attracting people in here.”
Some of the growth that has occurred recently, said Mobelini, is the construction being done on the Farmer's Market Pavilion and the ArtStation in downtown Hazard. Additionally, he said, there is a new building being built in the Village Lane Shopping Center.
“That's amazing that something is being built during the pandemic,” said Mobelini.
The new building being constructed in the Village Lane Shopping Center, said Hall, is going to be a multi-occupancy building. Hall said it is owned by Drinkard Development, which owns several shopping centers. The new establishment, said Hall, is expected to have four or five occupants, with two of the possibilities being Aspen Dental and Cricket Wireless.
“It's sad that we're losing things, and it's inevitable when you shut your economy down completely like we have – something is going to shut down, but we've got to be resilient and try to get something back in its place as fast as possible,” said Mobelini.