Center Point Mayor: Concerns about crime ‘blown out of proportion,’ as several businesses close

Businesses in Centerpoint leave because of crime

CENTER POINT, Ala. (WBRC) - Concern about crime and the future of commerce continues to grow in Center Point.

Several businesses have closed in recent weeks and one business owner said she believed crime and permitting cost we’re major factors.

“I’m concerned. Definitely concerned,” said Valencia Williams, owner of Symply Unique Boutique.

It’s just before 6 p.m. Wednesday and Williams was preparing to close the store for the night. Although cameras and other anti-crime devices surround the store, Williams said staying late wasn’t an option.

“With the recent issue, just yesterday it raises more concern. We don’t have enough policing,” said Williams.

A deadly shooting outside of a nearby barbershop the previous day had Williams questioning how long she intended to stay, following behind other businesses who had thrown in the towel.

“Fred’s, right on Center Point Parkway, they closed. Dollar General, right next to the Fred’s, closed. That really brought a concern. Why are they closing?” said Williams.

Mayor Tom Henderson said businesses close and open everyday all over the country.

“There may be a couple of businesses leaving, but it’s not a mass exodus at all,” said Henderson.

Henderson said Center Point saw a gain in new businesses in recent years.

“This [crime], again, is something that’s blown out of proportion,” said Henderson.

The Jefferson County Sheriff Office’s website paints a story of multiple shootings, homicides and property crimes throughout recent years. Studies show increased crime can have a negative impact on a communities development, schools and community relationships.

The city has a plan to attract new businesses, according to Henderson.

“We’ve hired an economic development person. He’s helping recruit businesses,” said Henderson.

For now, Symply Unique Boutique remains open and its owner is on a mission.

“Stay and fight. I want to be able to give back. That’s a part of my mission for my business is giving back,” said Williams.

Williams also offered advice to the city on how they could attract and retain more businesses. She said the cost of business permits in Center Point does not align with the average income level costing entrepreneurs more than they should pay. Williams said the city should reevaluate the cost of permits to make moving to Center Point more attractive to business owners.

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