Rebuilding Shifts to Businesses in Parkersburg

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Dave Franzman

PARKERSBURG- The rebuilding effort in Parkersburg is beginning to shift to businesses as well as homes.

The entire town of Parkersburg, west of Cedar Falls, has looked like a construction zone since May 25th. That's when a tornado wiped out a good chunk of the community.

Parkersburg lost 250 homes when the twister roared down the community's main business highway. But the toll also included at least 15 to 20 businesses. And that's why a groundbreaking Monday was so significant.

Development leaders broke ground on a nearly 10,000 square foot commercial building. Five or six community businesses displaced by the tornado are expected to eventually locate there. The community is also looking to attract new businesses who want to participate in the rebuilding process for the town.

One dentist displaced by the storm, Dr. Lori Mason, said it made sense to get involved with a building that will combine a number of offices. Dr. Mason said "this is going to come up quick, if we decided to go on our own, it would take a little bit longer and be more headaches."

A unique financing arrangement with money loaned from 13 rural electrical cooperatives financed construction. The large commercial building may be ready as early as December.

Some businesses in Parkersburg returned quickly after the tornado. That included the convenience store with the only gas pumps in the community. But several restaurants lost to the storm aren't returning at all. And while the town's only grocery store plans to rebuild, the space is just a cleared lot for now.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Haylock said, " I think it will temporarily leave gaps (in the business community) but the major ones are coming back."

Parkersburg has issued 181 building permits with a value of nearly $34-million dollars since the May 25th tornado. Some of the first homes rebuilt after the storm was recently reoccupied by families.

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