New Year, New Beginnings

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

After a year of pandemic upheaval and a blizzard of headlines about small businesses struggling to hang on, the year 2021 has dawned with perhaps-surprising in some quarters.

Entrepreneurs are opening and expanding a flurry of new businesses here in Moorhead. While times are troubled for bars, restaurants and others that depend on public patronage, the list of start-ups has been quietly growing. We feature three of these infant enterprises in this week’s Extra, along with one well-established firm that has raised its profile in a highly visible location.

City economic development consultant Derrick LaPoint says that when 2020 building permits were totaled up recently, they brought some unexpectedly sunny news.

“We have been so engulfed in the pandemic that we weren’t exactly paying attention,” he says. “We knew a lot of things were happening, but until we stopped and actually reviewed the data, we had no idea. It’s huge!”

According to LaPoint and City Manager Dan Mahli, building permits are up across the board. Residential construction reached 133 in 2020, compared with 128 homes in 2019. Remodeling permit rose, too, from 445 in 2018 and 464 in 2019 to 607 in the most recent year.

But the commercial sector’s rise was even more dramatic. Remodeling permits reached $32 million in 2020 (up from $26 million in 2019). But the big news was in new commercial construction: It more than doubled, to $24.5 million last year, after reaching only $11.7 million in 2019.

Stories continued on pages 2 & 3.

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