By the end of 2001, the Brainerd lakes area began to reach critical mass in terms of attracting large, well-known business names to the area.
Best Buy, Applebee's and Menards all confirmed their intentions to locate in the lakes area. And, even in the face of a national recession, established businesses expanded and remodeled as the lakes area showed signs of continuing robust commercial growth. Lexington Manufacturing began construction of a mammoth building in south Brainerd. Lindar, a plastics manufacturing company, expanded in the Baxter Industrial Park.
Best Buy and Menards were in the midst of construction as the year drew to a close, joining Home Depot and other established businesses jockeying for room close to the much vaunted Highway 371/210 intersection. Nearby the Twin Birch motel, just off Highway 210, fell to the wrecking ball to make way for the new Hawthorn Suites, which includes a restaurant.
After shopping for a location, Applebee's settled on a site near the Highway 371 and Woida Road intersection near Menards. A number of other businesses and restaurants started in 2001. And ground was broken for a new Cub Foods store in a renovation of the East Brainerd Mall.
Commercial developers are not unlike flocks of birds. Not only do they tend to flock together, but when one lands the others take notice. In order to move to an area with a combined size of Brainerd and Baxter -- at the 2000 census level of 18,733 -- corporate decision-makers said they were enticed by the area's expansive seasonal population, residential growth trends and by the fact that other familiar stores were already in the area.
Predictions have long been of a recognized Brainerd lakes area position as a regional retail center in the state's geographic middle. Those additions also mean property tax income for governmental units and the creation of jobs in manufacturing to the service industry.
As major retail stores continue to mix with smaller niche store fronts, established retailers and a variety of service providers, the area appeared to take another solid step in its transformation. It is another step beyond those days when people thought the city streets were rolled up after Labor Day weekend and unrolled for the fishing opener the following spring.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.