Oregon officials at a council meeting on Dec. 19 urged businesses that were located in the Woodville Mall in Northwood to consider moving to Oregon.
The mall, which had opened as the first shopping mall in the area in 1969, was closed in December because of health department violations. Many of the business owners were frustrated that the mall had closed before Christmas, one of the busiest seasons of the year.
“We all watched sadly, I think, the closing of the Woodville Mall last weekend,” Councilman Sandy Bihn said at the meeting. “We saw a number of small businesses really go to their knees, because of the timing of the closing.”
Bihn said she spoke to Oregon Administrator Mike Beazley to find out if the city could help.
“I would urge the Economic Development Foundation and all of us to find out if there is any opportunity for Oregon to bring those businesses here to Oregon or to help them out.
“In particular, I’m not sure what’s going to happen to The Andersons or Sears,” said Bihn. “Some of us may recall a while back that The Andersons actually considered coming here. A lot of us would certainly like that to happen. Now perhaps the opportunity may be here. We’d like to court that as much as possible and invite them and give them good numbers to make their bottom line as beneficial. I do think they would do better on Route 2 as they did in the mall.”
Mayor Mike Seferian said the city is interested in luring Andersons from Northwood to Oregon.
“We have reached out a welcoming hand to them and have actively tried to answer any questions they may have, or do whatever we could to let them know that they are very welcome, if they choose, to the city of Oregon. They will be welcomed with open arms,” said Seferian.
Beazley later told The Press that there have been some discussions with potential landlords in Oregon to provide space to the former businesses in the mall.
“We will continue to do that. Ultimately, those are choices the individual businesses have to make. We just want to make sure they know they’re welcome in Oregon, that there is some space available that might make sense to them,” said Beazley.
Little can be done in Northwood to keep those businesses in town, according to Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner.
“We met with The Andersons a couple of times. We knew there were concerns there. And we are really limited financially in what we can do to help them out. It’s not like it’s a big industry coming in, with 150 high paying jobs. If so, we can rebate half the income tax. Other than that, there’s not much we can do for the jobs at the mall. Generally, they don’t pay a lot of money like that. But we did meet with them, opened the lines of communication. We expressed our concerns, they expressed their concerns. Of course, we’d love to have them stay in the city.”
Northwood Councilman Dave Gallaher, who is chairman of the city’s Economic Development Committee, said he held a committee meeting soon after the mall closed. “There is nothing the city or council can do about it,” he said. “As a councilman, I can only do so much. I’m limited in what I’m able to do at the committee level.”
The city, he added, could boost the business climate by passing economic development programs, which have received little support from the mayor and council in the past.
“I tried to get an economic development director full-time, but that didn’t fly,” he said. We need someone to do that in the city. Currently, that’s not getting done.”