Entrepreneurs in Thunder Bay's downtown north core say development along the waterfront has sparked a turnaround.

Marlo Ellis recently moved her gym down the street to a larger space in the heart of downtown. She says she’s happy to see the area being revitalized.

“In the last two years, it's just busted out and it's been exciting for me,” Ellis said.

“There's a lot of foot traffic as the downtown core expands … gets busier, and develops, so I want to be right in the centre of that, I thought it was a smart business move.”

Suzan Cooper-Rochon

Suzan Cooper-Rochon is the owner of Perfect Fit Lingerie, and the chair of the Waterfront District BIA in Thunder Bay. She says the new and soon-to-open businesses include a clothing store, a coffee shop, a record store, and various services. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

The chair of the Waterfront District BIA says in the past year, about 15 new and diverse businesses have either opened their doors or announced plans to do so.

Suzan Cooper-Rochon said waterfront development has entrepreneurs thinking about opening a business downtown “because I think … they also have a vision and they can see what's going to be happening in the future."

Cooper-Rochon said enhancing connections between downtown and the waterfront will lead to even more growth.

Across the street from Ellis’s gym, Natasha Pang Robertson has just launched her own business called Connect the Dots, a resource and education centre for new mothers and their children.

Natasha Pang Robertson

Natasha Pang Robertson's business, Connect The Dots, has several programs for different age groups of children. "I'm trying to be ... a one-stop shop for moms so they don't have to be researching and looking all around," she says. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

“It's really exciting, it's great for my moms too so they can come with their children,” she said.

“They can come to a program here for a little bit, then they can go shopping at some of the new stores. I knew I wanted to be downtown, because ... the energy, when you're walking downtown, it feels so good ... there's something about the waterfront."

Ellis also said Thunder Bay’s downtown is “a really high energy area.”

“Every time you turn around there's a new sign going up or the lease sign's coming down and people are filling it, so it's a really exciting time."

On Tuesday, CBC Thunder Bay’s Superior Morning radio program will have a feature story on women entrepreneurs and how they have become an important part of changes in Thunder Bay's downtown south core.