Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Aug. 1

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Loss of downtown businesses

Five downtown Danville businesses either closed in July or will close this month — sister restaurants Nellie Burton’s and Cue on Main; Main Street Furniture; Art of Danville; and Pies For You and Cookies Too.

It’s never a good thing to have businesses close, but at the same time, we don’t think people should read too much into the closures. The fact is small businesses are starting up and then closing down all the time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of small business failure have been very steady — even during the Great Recession, failure rates didn’t change all that much.

About one in five small businesses fail in the first year, according to the BLS data. About half fail within five years; and only about 35 percent make it 10 years. While the BLS data on small businesses lasting 20 years is limited, it suggests about one in five make it to the two-decade mark.

If you look at the reasons the five businesses closed, they were each in a unique situation. One of them — Pies For You and Cookies Too — is closing later this month because it was actually doing too much business, according to owner Wilma Brown.

Without a unifying reason for the closures, the most logical explanation is coincidence. When a business opens or closes, it is essentially a random event when viewed from a statistical level. It just so happens that five of these random events occurred within a few weeks of each other.

We could just as easily see an upswing in future months when a bunch of new business openings coincidentally occur at the same time. And don’t forget — while five closed, there are many more businesses still open and doing just fine in downtown Danville.

If there’s a silver lining to these closures, that’s it — they’re not a reliable indicator of an unhealthy business environment or any systemic problem. That means hopefully, it won’t be hard for downtown Danville to rebound.

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Heather French Henry visits with veterans

Heather French Henry, the deputy commissioner of Veterans Affairs in Kentucky, visited Danville Thursday to speak to and visit with many local military veterans.

Henry, a former Miss Kentucky and Miss America, spoke at the Kiwanis Club of Danville’s veterans recognition lunch, and struck all the right notes with her words.

Henry didn’t speak down to or patronize veterans; nor did she put them on a pedestal and ignore the real problems they face. She touted improvements to care for veterans in recent years, while also emphasizing the need to do a better job of supporting female military members and treating each veteran who needs health care as an individual. And she very eloquently expressed why public expressions of support for individual members of the military is so important to preserving our nation in the future.

Veterans were honored at the event with certificates and pins; they were more honored, though, by French’s honest, respectful and meaningful thoughts and thanks.