Some owners claim difficulty running business in Carbondale - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Some owners claim difficulty running business in Carbondale

“My experience has always been positive.” --Jill Johnson, Owner: Cool Spoons (Source: Loreto Cruz KFVS) “My experience has always been positive.” --Jill Johnson, Owner: Cool Spoons (Source: Loreto Cruz KFVS)

Many small businesses in Carbondale say they have faced too much difficulty while conducting business in city limits.

A variety of locally owned shops voiced their complaints in Monday’s edition of the "Southern Business Journal," saying they believe there’s too much bureaucracy and red tape for comfort.

In contrast, not every business shares the concerns.

Jill Johnson owns local frozen food shop Cool Spoons on the east end of the city, and says her three years in operation have been very successful.

“My experience has always been positive,” Johnson explained when asked about her relationship with the city.

Her belief is that if the game is rough, there’s a design in mind.

“We need regulations to have a  positive and healthy environment to serve food in…" she said. “Personally, I wouldn’t want to go to a restaurant that didn’t follow those regulations.”

Johnson recently opened a second franchise to the dessert shop in nearby Marion, but didn’t comment on the difference in business dealings from city to city.

Others believe there is a stark and unnecessary difference between the cities.

“I have heard many people say that business is easier to conduct in other towns, and I agree with that statement,” the owner of Pinch Penny Pub near SIU said over the phone on Monday.

Other Carbondale bar owners told the "Journal" that nearby Marion’s an easier town to open up shop in because of less regulations and a more cooperative government.

Carbondale Main Street administrator Meghan Cole said the comparison isn’t fair.

“While it may seem like you’re comparing apples to apples because they are similar size, you’re really not,” Cole explained on Monday. “Marion has a different set of codes. They’re also an interstate town, so they deal with a different set of problems than let’s say a college town.”

“The Pony” was an establishment open for a short span of time in downtown Carbondale, while featuring bikini-clad servers and a provocative atmosphere, at one time displaying “girls girls girls” on their sign overlooking IL-13.

The establishment recently closed after the city denied renewal of their liquor license.

According to "The Journal," the owner maintains he never violated city code, and was treated unfairly by the decision.

Additional liquor peddling establishments in town explained over the phone they did not want to comment on the matter publicly out of fear that public disclosure of their complaints would cause them “further difficulties with the city.”

When asked if certain types of establishments are treated differently in terms of code and regulation enforcement, assistant City Manager Gary Williams said such practice was “Par of the course.”

“I think the city in general, and I think this would be the same for most municipalities,” Williams began. “Anytime you’re dealing with alcohol, or any kind of a use that could potentially be more controversial, or that might have a history of creating public problems, certainly those types of licenses and permitting issues are scrutinized a little more“

Williams spoke on Monday on Mayor John ‘Mike’ Henry’s behalf, who was preoccupied in the adjacent room of City Hall.

“In spite of this perception of people of [Carbondale] being business un-friendly, we’ve been pretty successful in attracting development here.” Williams continued, “We’ve got around $30 million of development in the downtown area either in the process or pending right now, and several major redevelopment projects in the works.”

Some notable developments mentioned by Williams include an ongoing expansion to Carbondale Memorial Hospital, construction of the ‘Evolve” apartment complex on the strip due to open this fall, the recent or upcoming unveilings of a Dunkin Donuts, Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits and IHOP on the West end of town, and an upcoming $4 million remodel of University Place.

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