Downtown addition offers good news

Steubenville received a bit of a boost late last week when it was learned that Dollar Tree would open a downtown location in the North Fifth Street building that had, until August, been a Rite Aid.

That’s welcomed news on many different levels.

First, it means that a building that sits in a prime downtown location will be occupied. Second, it will provide job opportunities — between 12 and 20 associates are expected to be employed when the store begins operations in late January, a Dollar Tree representative said. Third, and maybe most important, it will provide a shopping option for downtown residents, a significant percentage of whom do not have cars and have to walk a long distance to make even the most basic purchases, as well as those who work in the area.

The new business is a good addition to the downtown, because it will keep things active, city officials have explained.

For years, the site where the 10,787-square-foot building sits has played a key role in the region’s commerce. Many area residents still remember when the fabled Hub Department Store stood at that spot, the intersection of Fifth and Market streets.

Dollar Tree is a Chesapeake, Va.-based chain of discount variety stores that sells items for $1 or less. Stores of its type have seen large increases in business across the country.

According to Business Insider, Moody’s expected sales at dollar stores to increase as much as 8 percent this year, a number that’s twice as much as the growth rate of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent expected of U.S. retail in general.

Its new downtown store will join existing locations in the Tri-State Plaza on Mall Drive in Steubenville, Three Springs Drive in Weirton and on Commerce Street in Wellsburg.

There has been a surge in economic growth in the downtown area during the past few years, with several new businesses taking their spots alongside those that have been serving the region for years.

And, while there’s still more work to be done — downtown continues to lack a drug store or a grocery store — it’s encouraging to know that local entrepreneurs are eager to open up shop there, and national retailers find the area attractive.

It all means that there’s reason to be optimistic about our region’s future.