Head to Head: Economic growth and business in Kirksville

The Index Editor-in-Chief Ryan Pivoney and Managing Editor Elisabeth Shirk write about Kirksville’s future and how to best stimulate its economic growth.

Kirksville needs more established businesses

Ryan Pivoney, Editor-in-Chief

In a small town like Kirksville there are local traditions and charming small business owners, but there is also the potential for growth and development. As Kirksville looks to its next 20 years, the City is carefully planning ways in which community identity, neighborhoods and housing, economic development, mobility and infrastructure, and future planning and land use can be improved by 2040. 

There is one aspect of that plan that might be particularly exciting to college students: economic development. While I wholeheartedly believe in supporting local businesses, I also think the City should be focusing on economic growth and getting more established companies and chains to locate to Kirksville.

As the economic hub of Northeast Missouri, it would be expected that consumers would be able to find their favorite fast food chains or big box stores in Kirksville, but that’s not always the case. Most students in Kirksville come from bigger cities, which already have companies that appeal to students. If the City is looking to increase its population and develop economically, I believe there needs to be a bigger emphasis on established companies. As the City grows, there becomes a larger need for more businesses to service public demand, and those businesses should be ones others are already familiar with.

The new Scooter’s Coffee shop that will open on Baltimore Street is a good example. While Kirksville already has a Starbucks and a few local coffee shops, there is a need for a Scooter’s because it’s a brand people are familiar with and enjoy. 

The addition of more chain retail stores or restaurants would also help to define what makes the local businesses of Kirksville valuable and successful.

Increasing the variety of established brands around the City can make the student population feel more at ease in making Kirksville their home. If new students are constantly trying to find a new local provider of furniture, decorations or even coffee, they are more likely to feel lost. To keep more people living in Kirksville, even after they graduate, there should be more businesses students can or already do feel connected to.


Kirksville needs more small, local businesses

Elisabeth Shirk, Managing Editor

As I walked around Red Barn Arts and Crafts Festival, I noticed several people huddled around a booth to give their thoughts on what they would like to see around Kirksville in the next 20 years. Seeing this booth made me both happy and hopeful, because I want to see Kirksville thrive. 

While it’s important to keep an open mind and engage in forward thinking when deciding how to best help a city flourish, it is equally important to remember the city’s roots and its particular qualities. One big quality is the town’s proximity to some of the country’s best agriculture. The city should highlight its abundance of local agricultural business owners and one great way to do this is with more locally sourced food options.

Not only will locally sourced food options show support for local business owners, but there is evidence that they can be successful here. Take Root Cafe, which uses local food in its kitchen, has received a 4.8/5 star rating from more than 230 online reviews. Even though they are a pay-what-you-can establishment, their sustained presence in the community is evidence that people are willing to pay for what they serve, since they rely on paying customers to keep them open.

Also, while the convenience of chain restaurants is undeniable and appealing, local businesses give cities distinctiveness. Having restaurants that are exclusive to Kirksville would likely be a stronger motivator to come to this city than the chain restaurants here that can be found in almost any other city.

Kirksville has so many great qualities and if those qualities are highlighted, then the City will thrive in its next 20 years.