Former Wal-Mart building, others in Woonsocket get new owners

By: Melissa Randall

Woonsocket is getting a major economic boost. Half a dozen new businesses have signed on to open up shop in the struggling city and will soon be moving in to vacant buildings. Six new owners have agreed to make the move so far.  

Donald Budnick’s Connecticut based company, Ardent Displays and Packaging, is ready to take a gamble on the struggling city. It will be moving into the old Wal-Mart building on Diamond Hill.

“Being able to move into an area that is going to appreciate somebody hiring is a positive for us,” said Budnick.

About half of the business owners are moving to Rhode Island from out of state. Others are new ventures for long time residents like Bethany and Eric Marsland who will turn an old diner on Front Street into a new pizza shop.

“My mom and I used to sit at champs and talk to roger and jerry and i always told them when I was a little kid that I’d love to have this place and how ironic that this is taking place right now,” said Bethany.

Mayor Lisa Baldelli- Hunt admits there is still a lot of work to do to get the cities economic development to where it should be, but says the business climate is improving. She is also touting the city’s assets like the entertainment venues and historic district.

“We really have much more to offer than people realize,” she said.

Some of the other buildings that will be redeveloped include:

  • 1919 Diamond Hill Road (formerly Wal-Mart)- it will now become Ardent Displays & Packaging, a Connecticut firm that creates displays for the sale of various products in retail outlets
  • 811 Park East Drive (in the Highland Corp. Park)- it will now become Jeweled Cross Company, which creates spiritual jewelry
  • 333 River St (formerly Grossman’s Bargain Outlet)- it will now become Ross Matthew & Atlas Products, a Fall River braiding company, foreign and domestic
  • 115 Ricard St. (formerly Woonsocket Sponging)- it will now become Iron Rock Mills, and will produce custom tabletops and other mill work for use in restaurants

While many of these new companies are small, less than 25 employees, many will be hiring.

© WLNE-TV 2014
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