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New Morgantown Businesses Receiving Mixed Reviews

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MORGANTOWN -

Several new businesses are on their way to downtown Morgantown, and are receiving a mixed bag of opinions.

"You go into a Panera or Starbucks, you could be anywhere, you have no idea where you are at. You go into these companies that are locally owned, they greet you, and you know where you are at. You're in your community," said Ashley Keane, general manager of the Mountain People's Cooperative in Morgantown.

Keane has made her opinion on new national chains coming to downtown Morgantown quite clear. She's started an online petition asking the city government to give precedent to local businesses over national chains, and she's far from the only one concerned.

"When you add large chains it waters down the effect of our little unique corner of the world here," said the Grind WV co-owner Christopher Belt.

It's more than the downtown character that worries people. Some feel the chains will chase away local businesses, while other see it as a chance to grow.

"It's a good opportunity for more businesses to get into the area, and it will open more opportunities for students to have jobs. I think it's a good change," said WVU student Anna Pace.

"These larger businesses are going to bring more people downtown, which is great," Belt said. "But not everybody will be able to or want to eat at Panera or Starbucks everyday, and when they don't we'll be here."

The new Sheetz gas station and Panera businesses are expected to bring in more than 130 combined jobs to vacant lots, and other rumored changes could be right on their heels.

"We're not really in position to say what businesses can and can't come into Morgantown," said WVU Student Sam Angotti. "But I would rather have small businesses downtown, keep it in its own oasis, it gives Morgantown its personality."

"I'm personally excited. Sometimes the Mountainlair food gets old, so to be able to walk down and have Panera, I'm excited," said student Kellie Crane.

The Mountain People's Co-Op plans to make an official petition and bring its concerns before City Council. You can read more about the petition and the city's response to it here.