St. Cloud economy on the rise, despite recent closures

“Positive signs” was one of the comments St. Cloud’s Mayor Dave Kleis had to say regarding St. Cloud’s local economy recently. But, as of January 2015 stores such as Big Lots, Toys R Us, Work out World and Kmart in Waite Park have all announced they are closing their doors this month.

‘Going out of Business Sales’ can be seen in the Crossroads Mall, as the shopping outlet just lost its fifth consecutive store. Retailers closing in the mall alone include Wet Seal, P.S. From Aeropostal, New York & Company, Deb Shops and The Limited.

Crossroad’s General Manager Darcy Eigan stated that the recent store closings would have a minimal effect on the success of the mall.

“Out of 122 stores, five closures are not significant to us. It allows for more opportunities to re-merchandise and re-evaluate for what consumers want. We are constantly opening up stores and are in a good position,” Eigan said.

The recent closures have been attributed to corporate decisions that have little to do with the mall itself. Retailers such as Deb Shops and Wet Seal closed all locations due to bankruptcy, and P.S. From Aeropostal closed all of its stores nationally.

Officials speculate that closures may be due to online shopping, causing retail stores to struggle. Corporate giants also are a factor, as their cheaper prices are difficult to compete with.

Despite the January closures, Crossroads recently added three new stores in the fall, including PINK, Metro PCF and Forever21. Eigan also stated that Crossroads has several big announcements for new stores that will be released this spring around April or May.

Statistics for the economic status of St. Cloud for 2014 have officially came through, confirming a positive outlook for the community. The Milken Institute recently released the compilation of the nation’s top performing cities, both small and large.

The Best-Performing Cities project ranked the top 200 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, as well as the companion index that measured the performance of smaller cities. St. Cloud ranked 26 out of 179 small metros, and has been improved from its 2013 numbers.

Components such as job growth, wage growth, high-tech GDP growth and concentration, short-term job growth and the number of high-tech industries with LQ>=1 were factors used to determine the top best performing small cities in the nation. St. Cloud’s ranking improved four cities up compared to its thirteenth ranking in 2013.

Mayor Kleis’ comments regarding St. Cloud’s economy reflected the same sentiment demonstrated in the statistics.

“We do see certain areas where some businesses close, but we have seen some others expanding significantly, especially in the manufacturing end of things. There has also been a significant increase in restaurants in the last few years,” Kleis said.

Joining manufacturing business growth, Kleis explained that the number of restaurants in St. Cloud has significantly risen as well. In 2011 he said there were around 20 restaurants, and there are now over 50.

“There are additional new opportunities for entrepreneurs here in St. Cloud, we are seeing a much more positive outlook in this week along than we have in years,” Kleis said. “Not all businesses survive, but we are in a strong place right now.”



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