Pocahontas: booming downtown

Main Street in Pocahontas sees a growth spurt in business

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
A statue of Pocahontas stands outside the city of Pocahontas, welcoming those as they enter the Princess City.

POCAHONTAS — The Princess City of Pocahontas has a lot to be proud of after new businesses moved into the downtown area over the past year.

City Administrator Eric List said business has been booming in Pocahontas with several downtown businesses moving in or older businesses being purchased by new owners.

“Visual Designs opened up in the last year, up on Main Street,” he said. “Faith and Floral changed ownership, and they changed some of their offerings they have.”

In addition, New Impressions, a boutique, expanded and moved to a new Main Street location.

The new stores on Main Street have left a positive impact on the town.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Jeana Schott, of Pocahontas, browses the shelves at the Pocahontas Public Library recently. The library recently purchased a number of iPads that are available for the public to use.

“It’s been very positive, I would say, for business expansion,” List said. “There’s been some times where it’s slowed down, but the people are seeing (the change).”

And while the businesses are important, just as important is the fact that people are shopping in these locations.

“It’s been really nice to see the growth that we’ve seen on Main Street,” he said. “Five or six years ago, we were talking about quite a few empty buildings on Main Street. We don’t have that as an issue anymore.”

It’s not just downtown Pocahontas that has seen growth, either. List said BrandFX, which builds truck bodies, and is located just outside of Pocahontas, recently announced an expansion.

“They’re trying to add about 30 to 40 jobs,” he said. “They’re expanding their workforce and putting on a second shift.”

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Main Street in downtown Pocahontas has seen success with business over the past year. City Administrator Eric List said nearly every storefront downtown is occupied by a business.

Infrastructure improvements were also a highlight of 2017, including a rebuild of the city substation.

That project required the city to shut off its power for a single night last summer.

The resulting power outage resulted in the rare occasion of Pocahontas losing power.

“We don’t get power outages very often,” List said.

He attributed it to the fact that Pocahontas has an underground power system.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
BrandFX, located just outside of Pocahontas, recently announced an expansion, which includes the hiring of up to 40 new employees.

Infrastructure projects are also on the agenda for this year as well.

“We are doing a major rebuild on the wastewater system,” he said. “That’s one of our projects going on this year. We’re also drilling a new well.”

The city is also in talks with some businesses that are looking at moving to Pocahontas, but List said it’s too early to say what those businesses are.

The Pocahontas Public Library has also been busy lately with a number of changes, including improved technology access.

Library Director Lola DeWall said, thanks to grants from the Pocahontas County Foundation, the library was able to buy iPads that are available for checkout.

“The kids can actually use them here in the library,” DeWall said, adding that adults are welcome to check them out as well.

She said this has helped when the library’s desktop computers are all being used. People who want to use the computers can check out an iPad and get their work done that way.

For this year, DeWall said the library is looking at adding a Makerspace to its list of services.

“This year, we’re going to work on Makerspace and getting a cart full of craft items and games,” she said.

This will be available to anyone that wants to use a computer, but all are taken, to keep them busy and “be creative while they’re waiting.”

The library has also improved its social media presence by encouraging activity on its Facebook page.

DeWall said she posts on the page very frequently, including a weekly event called Read Bits.

“I pick an author and a book and tell them a little bit about the author and what books they write and maybe they’d like to try that,” DeWall said.

The library is also anticipating using its Facebook page to interact with the community more, by posting announcements of upcoming events and, should the library close, notifications on there.

The website also recently underwent an upgrade.

“They can check the catalogue online, you can go in and download an audiobook or eBook,” she said. “We have an encyclopedia on there that you can do research, so you can actually go in and access information on whatever subject.”

She said people enjoy both physically coming into the library and checking the website, and library staff want to be accommodating to all of them.