When I moved to East Ridge several years ago the main complaint about East Ridge was that we were turning into another Rossville Boulevard. Pawn shops, title stores, tattoo shops and buy here- pay here car lots and fireworks stands were taking over our city. The only place to get a meal was a fast food joint or a mom and pop sweet tea-meat and three restaurant.
While this may have been true, it doesn't have to be any longer. Bass Pro Shops is setting up shop in our fair city. This is a destination shopping spot for many people. No longer will we have to drive to Nashville to take advantage of their wide selection of hunting, fishing, camping and hiking gear.
Many many folks will see the billboard from I-75 north and south and stop here to shop. The question is, when they do stop, will there be a place for them to stop and get a meal other than Wendy's, McDonald's or one of the many other fast food restaurants? Believe it or not some folks like to sit down, be waited on and have a choice whether or not they would like an adult beverage with their meal and not be asked, "Do you want fries with that," or "Is that for here or to go?"
It's time for East Ridge to grow up and move into the new century. We can gain much needed revenue by offering I-75 travelers a legitimate choice in dining or we can watch shoppers leave and find places to eat in Chattanooga, Ft. Oglethorpe or even further up or down I-75.
It's up to you East Ridge...and while you're at it maybe a few nice hotels, you know, the ones that don't have hourly rates or bed bug issues would be nice. You know that they are coming. The time to act is now.
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I totally agree with Ms. Martin. Now is the time for East Ridge to "move into the new century." And, thanks to the countless hours that so many people have put in, we are headed in that direction.
The hardest thing for some people to understand about economic development is that it takes time and many people to make it happen. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as a company buying a piece of land and building on it. It has taken almost four years to get this development to where it is today. It is exciting when you can finally see things happening and realize that more will follow.
Now that there is an anchor store committed to our area, there will be many more establishments wanting to locate here. One of the developers has said they have plans for an additional 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of retail space and, yes, a hotel. They also have additional land under contract.
Yes, it is a great time for East Ridge. I am thankful the guys at Wolftever Development had a vision and were able to, with the help of the city of East Ridge and the state of Tennessee, see it through.