Our opinion: Investing in Brattleboro

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In this past week, the Reformer has featured four stories announcing businesses investing and expanding in our area — Tito's Taqueria, Mocha Joe's, Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery, and Sweet Miri's Cafe.

That's not enough to declare it a trend, but we're pleased to report on these developments for what they are: four businesses each willing to take a risk, put in the hard work, invest in Brattleboro, and bring vacant spaces back to life (and back on the tax rolls).

In the Black Mountain Plaza, Tito's Taqueria has taken possession of space formerly occupied by North End Butchers, as well as that business' kitchen equipment, and established a permanent kitchen facility for its food truck and catering operations. Owner Tito Garza has added a kitchen manager, and he has a long-range plan to grow his business to a fleet of food trucks, and maybe even a brick and mortar restaurant.

Downtown, the saga of the Cultural Intrigue warehouse took a happier turn when the owners of Mocha Joe's, Pierre and Ellen Capy, bought the building for $1 million at auction, with the intent of using part of the building for coffee roasting and product storage and leasing out the rest. Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. assisted Mocha Joe's with the process, and they obtained a $350,000 loan from the Windham County Economic Development Program.

Also downtown, Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery, finding itself in need of added brewing capacity to meet demand, will approach the Design Review Board with plans to turn the former Glenwood Collision building at 39 Frost St. into a brewery and taproom. The expansion is necessary, general manager David Hiler told the Reformer, because the 1,000 kegs that he and brewmaster Tim Brady produce yearly are not meeting growing demand.

Last and not least, Sweet Miri's Cafe rolled out the welcome mat Friday, as owner and baker Dara Levy is offering gluten-free sweet treats at 55 Elliott St. For people who are gluten-free by medical necessity, an eatery that caters to their needs and gives them a chance to enjoy baked goods without getting sick is more than just a nice perk.

Starting or growing a business requires taking a risk and betting on yourself that your idea, product or service is going to find favor in the marketplace and turn enough of a profit to earn a living and make investors happy. That's true whether it's a new venture such as Sweet Miri's rolling out the welcome mat, or established businesses such as Mocha Joe's, Tito's and Whetstone Station deciding now is the time to grow.

That these businesses are willing to do so in Brattleboro says something positive about this place we call home — to those living here and those on the outside looking in and wondering if it's time for them to join us.

Brattleboro embraces locally-owned business with a seriousness of purpose and an enthusiasm few other communities can muster. It matters here, a great deal, that dollars flowing into the economy multiply here rather than being siphoned off to corporate headquarters in Delaware. It's fine to talk about community; here, we literally put our money where our mouth is.

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