“All the businesses should receive a little boost from it, I would think, and certainly that’s what we’re hoping for,” McCown said.
Economic impact: The bridge closure has business profits down 25 to 30 percent since February in Lexington, with only one business temporarily relocating to Purcell, McCown said.
When McCown talks to people in Purcell about the bridge closure, he said the amount of business decline is approximately the same in both cities. McCown has met with George Maulden, emergency management director of Cleveland County, in an effort to find financial relief for business owners.
“He’s been working feverishly in search of Small Business Administration loans and researching for private grants to help,” McCown said.
Another initiative to help increase business and traffic flow to Lexington are relaxed rules on the number of garage sales taking place in the city. Lexington previously limited garage sales to four annually but will now allow them to take place once a week for a period of one year.
Meanwhile, business owners are doing what they can to keep their businesses from closing. Mark Pearson, of Pearson Lumber Company, is delivering orders to customers who live in Purcell.
Pearson’s business was down 25 percent in March. Additionally, Pearson works as a locksmith. When people lock their cars in Purcell, Pearson said he can’t travel to Purcell “at the drop of a hat.”
“I used to be able to take care of that. It’s not feasible to drive 35 to 40 miles to unlock the vehicle,” Pearson said.
The bridge closure has forced Pearson’s business to do one weekly trip instead of several daily trips.
“I call it thinking outside the bridge,” Pearson said.
Christopher Lobaugh, Lexington Gas-N-Go manager, said the bridge closure has affected the gas station. He estimates that his store has been selling 400 to 500 fewer gallons of gasoline each day, losing a few hundred dollars daily.