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      Economic boost hits Hannibal

      Downtown Hannibal

      It's a sign of economic growth in Hannibal.

      Businesses are expanding and relocating into areas recently vacated by other businesses. Stores like Rue 21 and Sears have taken over the old Kroger. CVS will bring some competition to local pharmacies, setting up shop next to Walgreens on Highway 61 and West Ely Rd.

      "It's a completely new business that's not in this market," Jeff LaGarce, Hannibal's city manager said.

      In addition, Goodys, Dirt Cheap, and Gabriella's Mexican Cuisine have moved into the Huck Finn Shopping Center. Other businesses like County Market and Aldi's are expanding, while a future shopping center will soon take shape between Aldi's and Lowes.

      LaGarce says it's a nice change for the area that was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008.

      "To compare it with the pre-recession era is really hard to do. And that's one of the biggest debates in this country, what is the new normal? Are we comparing ourselves to 2007 or something completely different in this era and that's something I don't know the answer to," LaGarce said.

      LaGarce says Hannibal is by no means out of the recession. He says the worst came in 2009 and 2010, but residents and businesses continue to feel the effects today.

      "It's nice to see the economy up-ticking a little bit, to see this new investment coming in," LaGarce said.

      New to the west side of McMasters Avenue is a Casey's General Store coming soon in the place of the former Martin's True Value.

      "It's good for the economy, good for the citizens and it's certainly good for the people who own these businesses," LaGarce said.

      It's true for Michelle Charlton, owner of the Sauced Hog located in the Steamboat Bend Shopping Center.

      "I really can't imagine living anywhere else or going anywhere else to open a new business," Charlton said.

      Within nine months of opening the smokehouse in Hannibal, Charlton says she was already looking to expand.

      "I feel like all of our shopping centers are expanding, so I really hope that with that, our business will do well here," Charlton said.