Ravenna trying to fill Acme store void

By Micah Panczyk Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Economic Development Committee of Council will consider on Monday a proposal that would seek a $150,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development, Mayor Paul Jones said Thursday.

These funds would assist Porter's IGA _ a Garrettsville grocery store nearing an agreement to lease the space _ in its efforts to remodel Acme's interior. The city also intends to commit $30,000 for this purpose from an existing Revolving Loan Fund, Jones said.

"This fund has supplied other grants that have been loaned out for similar purposes and paid back," he said. "It is entirely appropriate that we use this money for such an important project to fill the void that came about as a result of Acme's announcement that they are leaving Ravenna."

"If we don't move quickly on this, then we are going to lose some much-needed local jobs ... and we are also going to lose a major grocery service to our residents," he added.

Though Ravenna will apply for the ODOD grant "as soon as possible," it is unclear how soon the city might receive the funds, said Jones, who expressed confidence the city's application would be approved.

Porter's IGA is nearing an agreement to lease the roughly 35,000-square-foot structure from Emmco, the Beachwood-based firm which owns the property that had been home to the SuperCenter for some 30 years.

"There are some details we need to iron out with Emmco, but I don't anticipate any problems," Mike Porter, who owns IGA's Garrettsville branch, said Wednesday. "Essentially, we only need to sign the lease."

The company could employ some 100 people, he said.

Due to the extensive remodeling that would be required, the earliest the store would open is April 1, according to Porter, who said previously that his "independently owned ... service-oriented store" would offer the flavor of a "hometown business" immersed in Ravenna's community enterprises.

The store has orchestrated high school fundraisers in Garrettsville and periodically conducts grocery store tours for area elementary school students, Porter said.Acme announced on Wednesday its intent to close its East Main Street fixture by year's end. Rumors of the impending closure had circulated since late summer and intensified earlier this month, when several companies selling products to Acme were told to halt distribution at the end of the year.

The Acme Express store on West Main Street in Ravenna will remain open. In July, officials at F.W. Albrecht Co., which owns the Acme chain, announced the closing of SuperCenter locations on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls and Waterloo Road in South Akron.

Acme stores have done business in Ravenna since before the turn of the century, when the company first opened shop at the corner of Main Street and Park Way, according to Bob Miller, the city's director of economic development.

The company then moved to the West Main Street Parcel on which Acme Express presently stands. Some thirty years ago, Acme opened the East Main Street store now scheduled for closure.

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