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Short North report speaks to an economy ‘bouncing back’

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Even with having to say goodbye to some businesses, 2013 proved to be a year that added diversity to the Short North business community.

The Short North Alliance gained 20 new businesses and lost nine businesses during 2013, with additions ranging from restaurants such as Melt to thrift shops such as Out of the Closet, according to the annual report available on its website.

The Short North Alliance is a nonprofit aimed at promoting the Short North neighborhood and supporting business development in the area, according to its website.

Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, said the businesses coming into the Short North were a mix of new ventures and relocations.

As far as closures go, the year proved to be similarly mixed.

“It depended on the businesses, six just closed for a variety of reasons and the others relocated,” Pandroa said. “Zoom Room (dog training facility), Mwandiko Traders (African art seller), Square of Life Nutrition (health and wellness center), Europia (wine and spirits shop), Heyman Talent (talent agency) and Wilder’s (pharmacy) closed.”

Jay Clouse, president of Ohio State’s Business Builders Club, a student organization focused on entrepreneurship, said the business developments in the Short North are larger than Columbus as a whole.

“The business gain in the Short North speaks to the economy, that it’s bouncing back. The Short North in particular is doing great because of its demographic of young professionals with money to spend,” said Clouse, a fourth-year in marketing.

Clouse said some of the new business undertakings in the Short North could be relevant for current club members.

“Recently, tech startups related to the Internet and mobile devices are becoming popular — they’ve become sexy in popular culture. But real estate and restaurants are also popular categories that we have people interested in,” Clouse said.

Some students acknowledged there was still room for improvement in the Short North.

“The business failures show that there’s diversity developing still, and there isn’t a completely filled niche yet,” said Brian Dregner, a second-year in civil engineering.

Some students, however, felt the positive business turnover could be coming at the expense of others.

“The economy is on the up and up, and more people have the money and creativity to take the risk of starting a business, and there are a lot of thriving young professionals (in the Short North) that are able to support the economy there,” said Matt Hager, fourth-year in marketing and member of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, “But I also think that a lot of poorer people are being pushed out of the area.”

Pandora said the Short North Alliance focuses on and uses the neighborhood as a whole when trying to promote business.

“We run an ambassador program, and they’re out cleaning the streets and helping people find our businesses. We have over 255 businesses in the Short North, and we try to bring focus our unique location situated between downtown and Ohio State,” she said.

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