Midtown entrepreneurs contribute to thriving ecosystem

Continuing its emergence as a bustling retail/business center in the heart of Midtown, the Cooper Young community and the area just adjacent to it welcome some new developments here in the first few days of 2013.

First, the long-time company Toof Commercial Printing at 670 S. Cooper recently announced plans to acquire American Digital Printing and merge the two operations. The 17 employees of American Digital will migrate to Toof’s headquarters on Cooper and owners say that during the next year the company likely will be adding workers. That’s definitely great news and an indication that Toof, which traces its roots to 1864, is poised to be around for many more years.

Second, Ray Rico Freelance has signed a lease for 550 square feet at 2294 Young Ave.

Rico has been working on the property, which formerly housed Victory Bicycle Studio and Shoenista’s, by sandblasting the outside bricks and transforming the interior space by erecting walls and adding fresh paint.

Plans call for Rico’s team to open a creative co-op within the year.

“The move to Cooper Young was deliberate,” Rico said in an email. “Cooper Young was recently named one of 10 great neighborhoods by the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America program. The area is central, diverse and includes a vibrant arts community. Not to mention I live close by. We have big plans for this space.”

And that’s not all.

Similar to Toof, which plans to generate jobs, Rico has added two full-time spots at the firm (office administration and client development) and will add a Web development position in the coming months.

Finally – for now…I’m certain that much more is in store in the days, weeks and months ahead – Kathy Katz has opened Cooper Street 20/20 at 800 S. Cooper. The name is a reference to Katz’s decades of experience as a restaurateur at the Southern College of Optometry.

The new market is open from noon to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays and features “prepared soups, sauces, entrees and side dishes, featuring fresh, quality foods with local ingredients whenever possible.”

Stop by from 4 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 for the grand opening celebration and to welcome Katz’s establishment to the neighborhood.

Visit www.cooperstreet2020.com to learn more.

I realize there’s plenty to be concerned about these days, what with the fiscal cliff stories dominating news coverage and updates on tax hikes creating concern for most of us, but news like this offers a bit of inspiration as we look forward at the year to come.

Here’s hoping for the best for these companies and for the rest of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, too.

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