The Union County Chamber of Commerce is closing out 2013 with a new milestone.

The Union County Chamber of Commerce is closing out 2013 with a new milestone.

Jason Stanford, the chamber's business development manager, said the organization held 26 ribbon-cutting ceremonies for businesses in Marysville that opened, renovated or celebrated another notable achievement this year.

"We haven't really tracked that number before, but this is the most we've had in the six years I've been here," said Stanford, who estimated 10 ribbon cuttings were typical in recent years.

Inge Witt, the chamber's office and program coordinator, said they started tracking such events this year because it seemed so busy.

"There have been some months when we had three," said Witt.

Stanford pointed to the uptick as a sign of recovery after the 2008 recession.

"You can't bottle up the economy and not expect it to explode at some point. I think we're getting into that point where everything is now exploding, at least locally," he said.

Stanford said the recent opening of the new city hall, 209 S. Main St., and the police and court facility, 1250 W. Fifth St., show the city is committed to improving Marysville.

"Just to see the buildings as they are now, it really elevates Marysville as far as their ability to serve people. And it attracts people. It shows Marysville means business," he said.

Of the 26 ribbon cuttings, 17 were for Uptown businesses, which Stanford said is another good sign.

"Obviously there's room for improvement, but our vacancies are probably the lowest we've had since before the recession in 2007-2008," he said. "What we're running into is people either wanting to open a business, a restaurant or retail, but they're not able to find adequate space."

"With Uptown being historic, it's a challenge to be able to pay for renovation because there are certain requirements. It's a little bit harder," Witt said.

Not all the news has been good, though. Marysville lost the Old Town Inn restaurant this year when the family-owned business shut down. But Stanford said there are signs of life in that space as well.

"Another business bought the business itself and was in the process of reopening, then decided not to pursue it," he said. "Now we have another restaurant owner that is taking control of the business and trying to open the first quarter of next year."

Another noticeable vacancy is the empty movie theater on South Main Street. Stanford said there was a plan to revive the venue, but things didn't work out as expected.

"Right now, the theater is stripped down to its studs. We had attempted to secure some state funding and it wasn't successful last year. So right now it's in a holding pattern," he said.

"It's owned by an investment group, but in order to bring it back to life they need more funding," said Witt.

Witt said technology has actually complicated the scope of the project. With movies going digital, the theater needs all new equipment, which increases the price tag considerably.

"The cost to renovate the building is now the same as it would be just for the digital equipment, so it basically doubled the cost of the project," Stanford said.

Stanford and Witt said chamber officials work hard with businesses looking for space in Marysville, but they also must remain realistic.

"Not every business is going to be perfect for Marysville," said Witt.

"If we see a business contact that we don't think will be sustainable or might not be a right fit for the area they're looking at, we'll tell them that," Stanford said. "The last thing we want is to see a business spend all their money setting up a store or a restaurant, and then six months later they fail."