Thomson and McDuffie County continue to attract new businesses along busy Washington Road near Interstate 20 - the newest of which is expected to be a new four-story hotel, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.
At the same time, during the economic woes that are plaguing many businesses - both small and large throughout the United States - a few local businesses have closed, while some new ones have opened.
One of the newest businesses on the horizon for Thomson is a Hampton Inn. Plans viewed by the newspaper during an interview with Thomson-McDuffie Planning Director Fred Guerrant on Monday reveal that the planned hotel would be a high-rise building, consisting of four stories.
During a McDuffie Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday night, Chad Hammond, a Thomson lawyer and one of the owners of the property across Washington Road from Young Memorial Church, was present to request that part of the property be rezoned from residential to commercial use. The panel unanimously approved the request.
The property is actually owned by Columbia Crossing Partners, LLC, a venture that includes Mr. Hammond and Lincoln County Commision Chairman Walker Norman. Both men attended Tuesday's meeting.
"It's a nice hotel to come to Thomson, I think," Mr. Norman said.
Mr. Guerrant said Tuesday night's action will allow for hotel parking on one of the rear quarter sections of the property. The majority of the property already was zoned for commercial use, while the rear quarter section of the property was zoned reseditial use, Mr. Guerrant said.
It is not known when construction of the hotel might start or when it might be completed.
"I certainly think it would be a positive thing for our community," Mr. Guerrant said. "The more of these type upscale hotels and motels that we get, the more we began to impress people in the restaurant business to come to Thomson and McDuffie County."
Mike Carrington, director of Forward McDuffie, also is pleased about such news.
"This spells positive growth for our city and our county," Mr. Carrington said.
He believes, like Mr. Guerrant, that the more hotels and motels that decide to come to Thomson and McDuffie County, the more likelihood that nice chain restaurants will one day come, too.
Elsewhere, several new business owners have opened businesses in Thomson, while some existing businesses have relocated.
One of the newest businesses is Regal Jewelers, located at Camellia Plaza, off Washington Road. Formerly The Regal Jewelry Company was owned by Terry Holley of Evans. The new owner is Judy Hicks of Thomson.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Regal Jewelers will be held on Thursday, June 12, at 11 a.m., according to Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn Gilbert.
A new industrial services business has opened its doors in Thomson. ACRO is located at 786 Augusta Highway, Mrs. Gilbert said. The business is owned by Ronnie Bridges.
"We are very pleased to have these new businesses in Thomson," Mrs. Gilbert added.
Another new business that has opened it doors is located in Dearing. It is known as Ms. Marie's Cafe, located in what was formerly the Dearing Cafe, directly across from Dearing Town Hall.
Miss Marie's Cafe is co-owned by Hugh and Marie Reeves.
It's been nearly six months since Dearing residents had a cafe, according to Mayor Sean Kelley.
"I'm extremely glad it's opened," Mayor Kelley said. "I've already eaten there three times and it just opened last Tuesday. Every time I come by there, it's packed. So, she's doing good and we're glad to have her back."
Mrs. Reeves, who also works across the highway at Axon's, is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
"We've had a lot of help from the community," Mrs. Reeves said. "They've been very, very supportive. We couldn't have done any of this without them and I want them to get the proper notice they deserve. Dearing has been wonderful to us. We've started from scratch; we brought in all new equipment and everything."
The menu consist mostly of fast-food items - hamburgers, hot dogs, buffalo wings, club sandwiches, chicken strips and a kids' menu offering grill cheese sandwiches or hot dogs. The new cafe also offers stuff baked potatoes, grill chicken sandwiches and garden salads.
At least two businesses have relocated of late in Thomson.
Select Cars & Trucks is now located beside Young Memorial Church on Washington Road. It is owned by Terry Cooper.
Chalker's Autos and C&S Sales, meanwhile, is now located to its new home beside Jarvis McNair's Barbecue on Washington Road in Thomson.
Another business relocating is Gramps Stamps, Coins and Antiques, owned by Charles Eastman.Â On July 1, the business will move a few doors down from their present location at 128 Railroad Street to 146A Railroad Street, on the corner of Railroad and Greenway.
The downside of things is that several businesses have closed their doors of late. Among them are Fred's; Kentucky Fried Chicken and The Coffee Pot.