Recent weeks have seen a flurry of new businesses open in Highland, while several others plan to open soon or are expanding.
“I believe prospective business owners are really beginning to recognize that Highland is a hugely pro-business town and an attractive place to open a business,” Highland Economic and Marketing Director Lisa Peck said. “Highland has become an attractive destination for new businesses because of a very favorable environment. We have a number of organizations supportive services such as the Highland Entrepreneurship Program (HEP) for local business owners, a very receptive city hall, and a community devoted to supporting local business.”
The additions include regional chain stores — a discount grocer and a sporting goods store. There are also several local entrepreneurial ventures, including an antiques store, video gambling lounge, and dog sitting/supply/grooming business. A new memory care facility is also set to open soon.
“There are a lot of very positive things in Highland, and as the word gets out, others want to be a part of that,” Peck said. “We are really excited about the direction our local economy is headed.”
Peck said these new businesses will enhance the local economy by allowing Highland residents make purchases, experience services or receive care that previously they would have had to leave the community to have the benefit of.
“These developments will also serve to attract patrons from surrounding communities into Highland,” she added.
While the recent surge has been more traditional store front businesses, Peck said the city will also continue to push for new businesses of the information age.
“We have a continued focus on staying on the forefront of technology, and in fact are currently working on some initiatives to do just that,” she said.
The most recent such initiative was in December when the city sponsored its first-ever Gigabit Challenge business plan competition, meant to lure high-tech start-ups.
Squarefruit Labs founder Chico Weber said the move to Highland puts his 3-D printing company in a position to take advantage not only of the innovative entrepreneurship energy currently building in St. Louis. But it also helps to leverage his company to manufacturing firms in southern Illinois.
Weber and his team want to change the face of manufacturing with a product called “Persona,” a robot equipped with a mechanical arms and several camera systems that will allow for advanced manufacturing techniques, that include milling, material handling and 3-D printing.
Peck said city-owned Highland Communications Services will continue to be a key component in selling the city to the tech industry.
“It is also worthwhile to note, we remain on a select list of cities in the nation who have built a fiber-to-the-premises network,” she said.
Hibbett Sporting Goods Inc. will be opening its first store in Highland on Saturday. The store will be located at 12547 Illinois Route 143, in the strip mall near Walmart, and employ approximately eight full- and part-time team members.
Hibbet stocks a large selection of athletic, foot ware, athletic apparel and team athletic equipment. Hibbet also offers customers loyalty program, the Hibbett Sports MVP Rewards programs.
Illinois has been a large target of the Hibbett’s expansion for several years now. With the addition of the Highland location, the company has 28 stores open in Illinois. Of those stores, Carbondale was the first to open in 1991. The new Highland location joins a growing number of Hibbett Sports stores in the metro-east, including stores in Alton, Edwardsville, Granite City and Wood River.
In business since 1945, Hibbett now operates over 950 sporting good stores in small to mid-sized markets, predominately in the Sunbelt, Mid-Atlantic and the Lower Midwest. Highland has been actively trying to lure Hibbett for over a year, Peck said.
San Gabriel Memory Care
San Gabriel Memory Care is planning to open in late April or early May at 2509 Frank Watson Parkway in Highland, according to co-owner Carrie Dietzen.
“We are now still waiting for state approval,” she said Monday.
San Gabriel Memory Care is family-owned and operated by John Dietzen and Carrie Dietzen, who are a brother-sister team. Combined, the Dietzens have over 20 years of experience in senior living. Their love of working with older adults through meaningful programs in a residential setting led them to break ground on San Gabriel Memory Care in Highland in 2014. They also own an assisted living center in Rochelle, Ill.
San Gabriel is being built in two “neighborhoods,” with each neighborhood having 17 apartments.
Dandy Dog Daycare
Dandy Dog Daycare is expected to open at 113 Broadway in the next four to five weeks, according to owner Tim Reaka.
Reaka said Dandy Dog Care will be a “unique place,” that dogs and their owners will enjoy visiting.
“Cats will be allowed to come at their own risk,” he said and laughed.
In recent months, Reaka has spent countless hours remodeling an old home on the property and converting it into the dog care buisness, which will be decorated in 1950s decor. In addition to a dog day care, the business will have a bakery (where dog treats will be made), a boutique, and a bar just for four-legged companions to enjoy.
There will also be a number of grooming areas. Reaka is also adding an outdoor area, where dogs can play and mingle, and he is planning to have an outdoor seating area with tables and umbrellas.
Ruler Foods, a discount grocery store, opened at Northtown Shopping Center in Highland in late March. Ruler Foods is part of Kroger’s JayC Food Stores operation. The Ruler format offers “very low pricing on quality products” with a strong emphasis on the Kroger brand. However, the store also offers national brands, as well as fresh meat and produce.
The new grocery store also meant some rearranging of other commerce in the Northtown Shopping Center. The Glik’s Outlet store closed. The regular Glik’s store moved to another location in the strip mall, with Ruler Foods now in the old Glik’s location. Ruler Foods will employ from 15 to 20 people, all of those being part-time, with the exception of managers. Their Highland store is the third Rule Foods in the metro-east. The others are in Belleville and Collinsville.
This is the fourth grocery in the Highland area including Highland’s Tru-Buy, Schuette’s SuperValu and Walmart.
Windows on Broadway
With a one-of-a-kind design, Windows on Broadway offers two unique ventures in one building at 401 Broadway.
Window on Broadway opened late last week, got its name from the 97 windows that encase the front of the building, has an antique and fine furnishings store in the back and an elegant event space in the front.
The 6,000-square-foot space in the back is stocked to the brim with antiques, collectibles and furniture. The 2,100-square foot atrium, which features the impressive window-front facade, is designed to provide a space for “sophisticated, intimate groups.”
Windows on Broadway, owned by Cyril “Pete” Korte, is a culmination of many creative ideas and an inspiration that morphed out of a desire to bring life back to an old industrial site.
The building was once home to the 4-5-6 Co. car and farm equipment dealership and was most recently a Kubota tractor dealer.
Spin 2 Win
Spin 2 Win, a video gaming lounge tailored to women, opened on Monday at 801 Broadway. It is only open to people over 21.
The business, owned by Gene Hebenstreit of Litchfield, Ill., features five video gaming machines, and a small bar. Hebenstreit also owns Spin 2 Win businesses in Carlinville and Vandalia. His Vandalia location opened on Tuesday of this week.
Tri Ford, located at 12610 State Route 143 in Highland, is planning to build a new showroom this summer. The family-owned dealership, on June 15, expects to start demolition on its existing, 46-year-old showroom.
Tri Ford has chosen Korte-Luitjohnan Contractors Inc. of Highland to build the new $1.3 million showroom, which will be slightly larger than the existing facility. There will also be new offices constructed.
Tri Ford expects the construction to be finished by this fall.
During construction, Tri Ford is planning to stay open, and operate out of temporary trailers.
Chevrolet Buick GMC
Construction started about seven weeks ago on a 11,300-square foot auto body and paint shop and service area at Steve Schmitt Chevrolet Buick GMC, located at 12631 State Route 143 in Highland.
Steve Schmitt Jr. said the project is targeted to be completed by the end of July or early August, weather permitting. Schmitt is also planning to make some showroom improvements.
He said the new buildings will offer better layouts and improved efficiency for customers and workers.
The dealership is also planing to hire four new service workers as result of these projects.
“We now have 55 employees at our Highland store,” he said.
Plocher Construction of Highland was awarded the $1.2 million construction project.
The Gun Shoppe
The Gun Shoppe is planning on moving from 2641 Northtown Way to a new location at 12323 Highland Road on May 23. It will reopen June 1 as Precision Outfitters LLC.
Bob Boltman, owner of The Gun Shoppe, is partnering with Rob Wutzler in this venture.
Boltman has owned The Gun Shoppe since 2006. Precision Outfitters will be leasing about 1,800 square feet at the new store location, which will offer several new features including classrooms for concealed-carry classes and other gun-related training safety classes, Boltman said. The new store will also offer a bigger selection of guns and ammo.
“It will be a real cool place to come to,” Botlman said.