On a steamy Thursday afternoon, Richie Swager stood behind his unfinished bar smiling ear to ear.

His life has completely changed. About a year ago he was 42 pounds heavier and grabbing junk food at a gas station before starting his early mornings as a construction worker.

“I’d be up at 5:30 a.m. in the mornings, 6 a.m. at the gas station and everybody is there getting crap — donuts, coffee, crap for the day, 10 pops, a bunch of candy bars, you know,” he said. “And you’re spending $20 at least. I know I was every day.”

His lifestyle completely changed, he wants to bring new life to Jordan residents and said the city needed a place like Swager Nutrition. He will be serving up $5 shakes that serve as a meal replacement supplement with the protein powder Herbalife, produced by a global nutrition and weight management company.

An abundance of

new business

The new nutrition shop on Second Street is one of several news business that have opened since the beginning of the year in downtown Jordan.

Swager appreciated the low rents compared to his mentor, who has a business in uptown Minneapolis where Swager says he pays three times more.

Swager is among four new business in downtown Jordan to open since March, all within a three-block perimeter. Three of the owners are from surrounding cities.

Bluff Creek Boutique opened in March on Water Street after Owner Melissa Orthun started selling clothes online in the fall of 2016 and it grew so much she felt the need for a storefront.

In October 2018, she was driving around looking for a space and noticed the corner of Broadway and Water Street was open. It was conveniently next to Roet’s Brewery, where husbands could go for a beer if they don’t want to shop, Orthun said.

“They don’t have to leave their husband because he can go over and grab a beer while she shops,” she said.

Next door, Sassy Kat Boutique opened just a month later. Owner Jeni Schultz picked Jordan because she liked the “little historical feel, the small town historic feel.”

In May, Victoria resident Pati Richards put everything on the line for her new yoga studio on Water Street. She put her home up for sale and moved into a friend’s second home with her husband before buying the Jordan space with an apartment upstairs.

“We did it all without... knowing if we could even buy this building,” Richards said.

Scrolling through Facebook one day, the building at 225 Water Street appeared on her feed. It was love at first sight and she asked her husband to check it out with her. Before they knew it, they were moving in March 1.

She also fell in love with the historical feel in Jordan.

And Jacks Bar & Grill is being replaced by a new neighborhood bar called The Pickled Pig, a sports bar with a small menu that is scheduled to open in September.

What’s going on?

City Administrator Tom Nikunen chalked up the surplus of new business to a better economy, but also to city initiatives over the years.

In 2013, the city passed a $1 million Downtown Jordan Master Vision plan to revitalize Jordan. It focused on providing grants to incoming businesses to help them stay up to code in older buildings or improve their facade.

The city and the Economic Development Authority created a matching 1:1 grant program for businesses wanting to improve their storefronts such as brick repair, windows and doors or awnings for a maximum of $5,000 in funds.

In 2015, it launched its Downtown Street and Utility Improvements Project to help make downtown more physically appealing through better sidewalks, more benches, uniform lighting and adding planters with flowers along Broadway Street.

Nikunen said the initiatives are strengthening current businesses and attracting new ones into the area.

Linda Hanner, owner of The Hub in Jordan, which is across the street from Bluff Creek Boutique, said the more the merrier with new businesses coming into town. Hanner and her husband Kim have continually seen more people from outside of Jordan coming into their coffee shop. Kim Hanner attributes the growth to the economy turning around.

“When we opened in 2001, it was really rare to even get people from surrounding towns let alone passer throughs,” she said. “Now we have people where this is a stopping point for them that are coming from Minneapolis or Mankato.”

Sarah Wynn is from Chicago where grew up on deep dish pizza before making the move to attend the University of Missouri's Journalism School. After a few stints in London and New York City (NY style pizza may beat Chicago), she moved to Minnesota.

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