Business owners optimistic about Carbondale's future - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Business owners optimistic about Carbondale's future

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Downtown Carbondale will see a lot of changes soon. Several businesses are looking for new owners and others are expanding.

Owners of The Cellar are building an outdoor area with a patio, bar and a stage for live music.

Co-owner Michelle Stokes has owned the property since 2004 and believes it's the right time to expand.

"Carbondale has been struggling, but we feel like the time is right, between SIH expanding, the Walker's Bluff expansion, the time just feels right to us to reinvest into our business," Stokes said. "And we believe in Carbondale."

It isn't the only change happening in Carbondale. Several owners of long-time fixtures on The Strip are looking to sell their businesses.

Meghan Cole with Carbondale Main Street said there's a lot of opportunity for new business owners, and she's not worried about the number of businesses for sale.

"Ten-thousand baby boomers in the United States retire each day," Cole said. "When you think of... long-standing businesses, who owns them? That's baby boomers."

James Cox, owner of The Gametable, started his business on The Strip two years ago and said business has been great.

He believes the city can do more to advertise parking, but he doesn't have many other concerns.

"Most people that come down here don't know that they can park behind the restaurants that are on The Strip," Cox said. "So if they could, if the town could do a better job of letting people know where the parking is, that would be the most helpful."

SIU plays a major role in keeping businesses afloat on The Strip, and Stokes said those businesses have to do their part to increase enrollment.

"If we don't reinvest in our businesses and if we don't reinvest in downtown Carbondale, we're not going to be a draw to new students, to people coming into town," Stokes said.

The expansion of The Cellar is expected to be finished by September.

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