While fears may be widespread that America is nearing a double-dip recession, several business owners in Minden aren't allowing uncertainty to undermine their goals for growth.
The Hwy. 531 corridor in Minden is abuzz with new and expanding business. Couple that growth with the new technical college being built on Industrial Drive and new businesses opening in downtown, and it's easy to see why Minden officials have reason for optimism.
"This type of expansion is very positive and proves Minden is a unique city that is progressing in spite of the total economic situation," Minden Mayor Bill Roberston said. "Our tax base has increased from last year and everything looks positive. We are pleased we have these additions to the city and that 531 is growing along with Main Street and the service road."
AJ Price Tire and Service Center
One area of new growth sits at the municipal address 473 Hwy 531. That location is home to the new AJ Price Tire and Service Center.
Owned by the Collins family, this second location complements the iconic Main Street shop, which will remain open.
Offering tires, alignments, shocks, struts, brakes, flats, big trucks and fleets, the new AJ Price is the result of customer demand.
"We needed to expand for parking and to make it easier for our customers," said Alex Collins, who runs the AJ Price shops along with his father John. "Trucks are getting bigger and harder to fit in my stalls downtown."
Collins, who also serves on the board of directors for the local chamber of commerce, believes that any new business or expanding business is a good thing in the current economy.
"We have been relatively blessed," he said. "We haven't felt as much pressure as most around the country because of all the oil and gas drilling. We should be thankful. Our parish and this whole side of the state need to embrace this."
Collins is referring to the Haynesville Shale, a natural gas find that has dramatically changed the fortunes of many in the area.
TG's on the Grow
AJ Price isn't the only expanding business. TG's, their neighbor across the highway, is also choosing not to participate in any recession talk.
"We had a meeting with our upper management team and decided that we as a company would use this time to grow our company," said Terry Gardner, Chief Executive Officer of TG & Associates. "And we have done just that."
In the past year, TG's has established a full service irrigation crew specializing in Rain Bird Irrigation systems and a new Ornamental Iron division that offers custom gates, trellises, fences and home interiors.
"Along with the growth that we have achieved, it also brought the need for expansion to our location on Hwy. 531," Gardner said.
The business is currently in the process of adding a 7,000 square foot warehouse to house its irrigation, landscape, low voltage lighting, chemicals and hydro seeding equipment.
"With this addition, we will also be expanding our floral department which is led by licensed florist Linda Miller," he said. "Throughout this entire growth phase our business has seen an increase in sales month after month. We contribute this to our continuous effort to offer our customers the very best in customer service, quality products and dependability."
Gardner said the future development of Hwy. 531 is optimistic because of the recent new location of A.J. Price, the anticipated growth by Larry and Paula Tims with their new industrial office suites, and the completion of the First Pentecostal Church of Minden.
"Since our first building was built on our current location in 1995, we have seen a dramatic increase in traffic along Hwy 531," Gardner said. "I recall when you could practically go and lay down in the middle of the highway and take a nap because traffic was so slow. Now you almost need a police officer directing traffic to get around."
The other areas of growth he mentioned, the new office complex and church, are both under construction and should be completed in the near future.
Metric Holdings, a company owned by the Tims family – Larry and Paula, along with sons Luke and Pete – is in the process of constructing a new office complex near Interstate 20 on Hwy. 531.
Larry Tims, who also owns Fairway Carts on the adjoining lot, said it's always been his dream to have an uptown office complex that isn't downtown.
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with downtown Minden," Tims said. "It's a beautiful place. But we wanted to offer something new and fresh that's up-to-date and modern."
When SouthPointe Plaza is finished, the new construction will house two office suites that are 1,500 square feet in size and one suite that is 2,000 square feet.
In the back will be a warehouse that will be used by Fairway Carts.
Before deciding to build, Metric Holdings requested a traffic study on Hwy. 531 and learned it has become one of the highest-traveled thoroughfares in the area.
"In 2008, traffic count on Hwy. 531 was more than 10,000 cars per day," Luke Tims said. "Traffic really is higher than that shows because of cars that get off I-20 and back on."
In an area that has mostly truck stops and restaurants, the Tims family feels an office building could be a cornerstone for progress.
"There's been little development of space for rent – anywhere in Minden, but least of all out there," Luke Tims said.
"We're trying to create something that didn't exist."
And having a service road in close proximity is a bonus, he said.
"Land is extremely hard to come by and the people who own the lands don't seem to be willing to develop," Luke Tims said. "We have an attractive piece of property, and there's no reason just to let it sit there. It will be good for Minden – a chance for improvement."
First Pentecostal Church of Minden
Also under construction on 531 is the new location of the First Pentecostal Church of Minden.
Church officials say the house of worship will be for all the community.
Started in February of 2009, the new facility will boast a 40,000 sanctuary, a bookstore, nursery, Sunday school rooms, youth sanctuary and a fellowship hall.
"We plan to continue to grow as a church," Pastor Jeff Ramsey said. "We think this facility will benefit the community as well as our congregation."
The forthcoming buildings on Hwy 531 are fulfillment of the late Rev. T.W. Barnes and generations of people who called Minden their home.
"Our vision is clear and bold," Ramsey said. "We expect to complete the first phase of projects that allow us many more years of service to this community. Upon the completion of this present project, we intend to utilize all 30 acres for ministry."