Ozark Growing?

By: Erica Proffer Email
By: Erica Proffer Email

Brandy Portwood is almost set to open up shop.

The finishing touches are now being made to her Ozark children's boutique and consignment store, Itsy Bitsy.

"I'm excited, very excited. I think we're going to do well," says Portwood.

However, this downtown Ozark business didn't come without criticism from people within the community.

Portwood says her peers have told her to open up in some other cities, like Troy or Dothan, where similar stores have profited.

However, that wasn't her plan. "A lot of people told us it was bad we chose Ozark. A lot of bankers here in Ozark kind of said they didn't encourage Ozark, but there's not a lot in Ozark. There's not anything like this in Ozark and I wanted something to appeal to Ozark," she says.

But how many people also think Ozark is the place for business? That depends on which numbers you look at.

According to city leaders, hundreds of new jobs have come to the city.

According to utility officials, commercial accounts are down by only four businesses.

However, according to the city's license renewals, 108 businesses still haven't renewed from last year.

"I don't see we've increased a lot, but I don't think we've recessed any either," says Ozark City Revenue Clerk Tammy Blackburn.

Blackburn says only about 10 percent of the 108 un-renewed licenses are actually closed businesses.

She says some of the others are small, seasonal businesses that have probably just forgotten.

As for the new Itsy Bitsy store, Portwood says she expects do great in the city, despite what any numbers say.

The gross utilities license fees have reportedly increased by at least seven percent.

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