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Virus’s effect has us down, but not out

COVID-19 is being blamed for lengthy delays in new area construction and business growth, including the planned Boscov’s opening at the Eastwood Mall Complex and development of a new Menards warehouse in nearby Portage County.

We are sorely disappointed to see the current health crisis has resulted in these businesses having to delay their significant plans for our area.

Boscov’s announced this month it will delay the opening of its extensive retail store in the mall’s former Sears wing by a year until October 2021. The opening of what will be the retail chain’s 49th location originally had been targeted for next month. Boscov’s, based in eastern Pennsylvania, is billed as the nation’s largest family-owned department store chain.

The very same day that Boscov’s made its delay official, a separate two-year delay on the $52 million Menards manufacturing and distribution center in Portage County, just west of Newton Falls, also came to light.

Of course, we understand why these delays are happening.

Boscov’s Chairman and CEO Jim Boscov said, “You only get one chance to introduce a new store the right way. … We want to give the Mahoning and Shenango Valley communities the grand opening celebration they deserve, full of entertainment, food tastings, educational seminars and so much more.”

Sadly, these types of opportunities are greatly limited because of health and safety restrictions brought on by social distancing and limits on large gatherings.

Store officials also noted properly merchandising a new store is a challenge now due to the disruption in supply chain for consumer goods, also triggered by the pandemic.

Menards, which had been scheduled to start construction within the next four months, now will delay the start on its new distribution center until January 2023. Company officials there blamed “all the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Yes, we grasp the reasoning. Still, understanding it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. The delays are just further examples of how much damage the COVID pandemic has done to our economy — locally, nationally and globally.

Still, we must remain optimistic! We are pleased that plans remain in the works for the future. Indeed, we expect both projects will be meaningful for our area. As it already has proved, Menards, which already operates a large store in Bazetta Township, will continue to be a good neighbor. And we have high expectations that Boscov’s will be welcomed by area shoppers and it, too, will enjoy great success and be a bright addition to the Mahoning Valley.

While the COVID-19 pandemic might have us down, our Valley’s spirit and drive must remain intact.

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