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      CiCi's pizza closure brings to light City of Columbia TMs embattled commercial loan program

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Last summer CiCi's pizza on North Main opened with pomp and circumstance, awarding the first 100 customers a free pizza buffet for a year.

      Fast forward to the present and their closed for business.

      Macy Hair has lived in the North Main area since 1969, he says he was surprised that CiCi's shut its doors.

      I believe they should have stayed around a little longer they didn TMt really give it a chance to grow. If they had given it six months perhaps business would have been much better," says Hair, lives near North Main.

      City of Columbia officials hoping that CiCi's pizza would spark development in the area.

      This after investing nearly two million dollars of taxpayer money into the North Main plaza.

      Scott Blackmon a former city business loan officer says the city's commercial loan program was a benefit to new businesses.

      That program was suspended three months ago by the U. S Department of Commerce. Blackmon says this may discourage new businesses from coming to Columbia.

      "It could mean that now businesses will have a challenge, particularly when it involves job creation. That TMs what these loans were all about," says Blackmon.

      Blackmon also says city officials may have dropped the ball when it came to keeping track of the money given out through the commercial loan program.

      "I think they were good loans when they went on the books. I think the challenge that the city has was there was no follow up on the loans," says Blackmon.

      WACH Fox left several messages for City of Columbia officials asking about money spent on development. We are still waiting for a response.

      In the meantime folks like Macy Hair are wondering what will become of the North Main area.

      Do you believe that City of Columbia officials are good stewards over the city TMs finances?