Tuesday morning I attended a Northfield Downtown Development Corporation forum on local business issues. Northfield has a beautiful historic downtown district. Over the past decade or so there have been business changes in the downtown, just like there have been everywhere across the nation. The NDDC is a non-profit group that works to keep a strong downtown in Northfield. Formed shortly after Target came to town, they do an excellent job addressing business concerns. There was a big crowd at the meeting….good to see people caring about local businesses.

Today’s monthly meeting was sparked by the closing of the restaurant Las Delicias. The restaurant faced a number of difficulties including increasing rents and decided to close. No one likes to lose a business, much less a fine little restaurant that was serving ethnic meals.

Mayor Lee Lansing (left), Victor Summa (center) and Norman Butler (right) opened the meeting with a discussion of general business and building owner thoughts. All three own property in the downtown, and two operate businesses in them.

Norman Butler gave a very interesting perpesctive on the difficulties facing restaurants. He noted property taxes as a major concern. Norman suggested that it is a rare individual that can construct a new commercial kitchen in one of our downtown historical buildings and make it pay with a viable business plan. The margins in the restaurant business sound about as thin as the construction business!!

Drawing on my past legislative serivce, the attendees ask me if I thought the legislature would consider some commerical property tax relief. I told the group that would be a hard sell in the newly configured legislature, and that in fact many in the legislature are now talking about increasing commercial property tax rates.

Overall, Northfield has a very healthy business climate. We struggle with things just like any community. I do believe we have reasonable levels of customers from the town itself. If we can attract more businesses to town that have good paying jobs it will help everyone. Every dollar we can keep turning around in Northfield builds a better community.