From the beginning Hastings was supplier to the prosperous farmers who came to town to do their Saturday shopping. Today it’s the commercial hub for thousands of county residents. Hardware stores, farm implement dealers, food markets, restaurants, jewelers, shoe emporiums, dry goods shops have done business along State Street since the city was a village. The contemporary “downtown” is more than ever an important shopping complex, with ample adjacent parking areas. In 1993 the Downtown Development Authority’s Streetscape project unified and beautified the main business district. Additional shops, offices and restaurants extend out to the big shopping mall that occupies the former County Fairgrounds.
Local financiers and business people have always had their eye on industrial development. At one time or another the city has been home to a whip company, a felt boot factory, a bookcase factory, a manufacturer of croquet sets and baseball bats and a furniture maker. The first locally financed and continuously successful enterprise was the International Seal and Lock Company, now the Viking Corporation (car seals and automatic sprinkler systems). Other “homegrown” enterprises include the Hastings Manufacturing Company (piston rings and Casite), Hastings Mutual Insurance Company, Flexfab Horizons International (flexible tubing), ProLine (archery), Viatec (corrosion and pollution control systems), Felpausch (food chain), and Hastings Fiberglass Products. No longer locally owned, but still a major employer, is E. W. Bliss (metal forming presses). Part of being “the best” is stable employment for about 2,000 people in the manufacturing establishments located in Hastings.