How can we keep Schuler’s?

By Dean Shipley

June 23, 2014

A Madison County economic development team is taking preliminary steps toward keeping a popular business in London.

David Kell, executive director of Madison County Future Inc. Community Improvement Corp. (MCFICIC) — the economic development arm of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce — told Madison County Commissioners on Monday the group is in early stages of negotiation to keep Schuler’s Bakery’s from leaving town.

“At this time we’ve reached out to the chamber and the city to sit down to see what we can do to see — if we can keep them in the community,” Kell said. “It’s early outreach. We’re still working to try to schedule a sitdown.”

As previously reported, the bakery’s five-year lease at its 289 Lafayette St. location expires at the end of the month. The business closed over the weekend.

Schuler’s President Mike Peters said he mailed a proposed counter agreement to owner Al Coughlin Jr., of Coughlin London Properties LTD, in January, but never received a response.

Peters said he isn’t sure the branch bakery’s new home will be in London. When reached by phone Monday, company representatives said he was unavailable for additional comment.

Schuler’s Bakery, based in Springfield, opened the London store in August 2009.

Also, commissioners passed a resolution to have MCFICIC negotiate the sale of its real estate transactions — primarily at the property on Lafayette Street and Keny Boulevard.

Commissioners also received a visit from Adam Rapine, the field representative for U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, regarding a potential grant application for funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The grant would be used to fund a new water line commissioners are considering for an east-west line in the general vicinity of U.S. Route 40. It would include the communities of Summerford and Lafayette up through the intersection of U.S. Route 42 and I-70.

Commissioners said the “ballpark” estimated cost of the water system is $8 to $10 million. The grant would fund up to 50 percent of the project.

Rapine said EDA requires the population in the area being served be at an income “distress level.” The income has to be at 80 percent or lower of the median household income. Stivers’ office looked at census tracks to include certain communities and exclude others, such as the higher-income area of Choctaw Lake, Rapine said.

Grants are competitive and applications are reviewed on a quarterly basis, Rapine added.

Commissioners are still looking into the decision to drill new wells or buy the water from an existing source for the project. Contraactor M-E Engineering is expected to suggest a solution.

In other business, commissioners met with elected department heads to discuss record retention. Clerk of Courts Renee Zabloudil said she has hired a summer employee to scan documents within her jurisdiction. The person is working full-time.

Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1617 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.