BY JOE BELL
Director Corporate Communications, Cafaro Company
NILES – It was mid-March 2020, and government orders were shutting down businesses. As that was happening, intensive planning was underway at the corporate office for Eastwood Mall.
Much of that effort dealt with the mechanics of closing but the much larger goal was to formulate ways to emerge from the crisis. The words “emerge stronger” became the name of a plan that was deployed at Eastwood and all the other shopping centers in the Cafaro Company portfolio.
Emerge Stronger comprised the many facets of remaining in business during a public health crisis. Since the company itself is a manager of commercial property, the corporate office needed to stay open, albeit with much of the staff working from home.
The most crucial part was getting Cafaro properties across the country reopened so that thousands of employees at stores, restaurants and other tenant businesses could get back to work. That meant procuring the equipment to properly sanitize mall common areas and protect workers.
New signage and physical barriers were installed to encourage visitors to practice safe-distancing and other healthful behaviors. A “Mall to Go” program was developed, creating designated areas where shoppers could park and have purchases delivered to their vehicles. On May 12, Eastwood Mall reopened along with most other retail centers in Ohio.
The pandemic took an economic toll on many people in the community and the Cafaro Foundation attempted to address some of those human needs. In addition to the many worthy causes it funds, the foundation donated $40,000 in COVID-19 aid to organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, the Warren Family Mission, Ohio Living Foundation, United Way of Trumbull County and Mercy Health Foundation.
The Eastwood Mall staff collaborated in November with Second Harvest for a food giveaway at Eastwood Field that benefited 1,000 local families.
So what about new business expansion within the Eastwood Mall Complex? Construction continued on the long-awaited Eastwood Event Centre, which opened for business in October. And in July, Casal Aveda Institute welcomed students to its cosmetology school inside the mall.
Department store chain Boscov’s had to push back its planned arrival as it dealt with the closure and reopening of its stores elsewhere. However, construction resumed by late summer and the 180,000-square-foot store at Eastwood will open in October, employing about 300 workers.
Other new offerings are anticipated in the coming months.