By NIKKI YOUNK
FLORENCE, Wis. - After clearing several hurdles, including winning a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) grant and getting a tax increment financing (TIF) district approved, Florence County will finally get a full-service grocery store.
Pat's Foods will be located in the old Haberkorn's grocery store building on the west end of downtown Florence. Haberkorn's closed about seven years ago.
Florence County Economic Development Director Wendy Gehlhoff said that Pat's Foods is slated to open sometime in mid-June. She added that the grocery store will contain an Ace Hardware store, and that Subway will remain in the building.
The deal closed earlier this week, when Gehlhoff learned that Florence County won a WEDC Community Development Investment grant for the project. With the grant, the project developer can be reimbursed up to $250,000.
Pat's Foods owners Ben and Joe Campioni then closed on the property, said Gehlhoff.
The Campionis already own and operate Pat's Foods stores in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Ontonagon, and L'Anse.
"The addition of this anchor grocery/hardware retail business in downtown Florence is a big benefit for our residents to shop locally and our visitors to have access to supplies for their cabins and camping stays," said Gehlhoff. "This new retail development will create a more livable community for our current and prospective residents and will help springboard other development and growth for Florence County."
Other benefits include keeping tax dollars in Florence County and creating jobs, she added.
The grocery store project is one of three made possible by the county's new TIF district, which received final approval in March. In addition to Pat's Foods, TIF funds will be made available for the expansion of a sawmill in the industrial park and a new Family Dollar store.
Gehlhoff said that the Family Dollar project was recently approved by the county's economic development committee, and will now be passed on to the county board for approval at its May meeting.
If approved, the store could open by the end of this year, said Gehlhoff.
TIF districts work by setting aside any new tax money generated from the district, which could result from new buildings or growth in property values, and putting that money toward new developments within the district.
Florence County's TIF district consists of 652 contiguous acres in the town of Florence. Included areas are the industrial park, all of Central Avenue, the Natural Resource Center, the area south of U.S. 2 going west of town, and some parcels north of the downtown area.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.