FORT MADISON (WGEM) — While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused small businesses across the Tri-States shut down, officials in Fort Madison said they’ve actually seen a big surge in new businesses opening.

Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce coordinator Savanna Collier said they held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday to celebrate the opening of Treasure Trove, located at 722 Avenue G.

She said it’s been a busy year for them.

“We actually sat down and counted this morning and over the last year we’ve had 21 new businesses open, with three planning to open in the next three months,” Collier said.

One of the new arrivals is Swed & Co. Coffee, located at 702 Avenue G.

Having started roasting his coffee in the back of his theatre, owner Chris Swed said it’s been his dream to open a café downtown for the last three and a half years.

“It’s always been in our heads to do the café especially in Fort Madison, there’s a lack of places where you can just be and spend time with people,” he said.

Swed said just because Fort Madison is a small city, it doesn’t have to feel that way.

“I want people to realize that in this town we can have those types of shops that you may only get in the city, that our town can support those things, that we can be a place that actually attracts people to our town to come shop,” he said.

Collier said while they’re not exactly sure what exactly spurred the sudden revitalization, they’re liking what they see.

“We’ve got a lot of young entrepreneurs and a lot of young business people and people who are making major investments in our building’s downtown and across the community and we’re just super excited,” she said.

While opening during the pandemic was risky, Swed said the timing worked out well.

“I think it’s catching it right at the end here,” he said. “The vaccines are rolling out. People are willing to go out, spend time and start socializing again.”

Collier said they’re now they’re faced with a new problem as available storefronts are going fast.

“That’s exciting,” she said. “That’s a great problem for us to have.”

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