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Archive for October, 2009

Retail and the “Quality of Life” Factor

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

What makes a city great? The “cool” factor, an affordable cost of living, good schools and low crime rate are just some of the qualities that come to mind. An infrastructure that can support growth and well planned residential subdivisions are also crucial if a community truly desires to be “world class”. Quality retail development is another ingredient that is absolutely essential for a city to be considered at the top of the list.

Of course, people with different lifestyles will look for different criteria. For example, single professionals look for quality employment and may rank a short commute time near the top of their list while families with young children will undoubtedly consider education a priority. Good jobs are essential to a community’s economy. Suburban cities may depend on near-by urban area for jobs, but in smaller, more remote towns, and even in larger micropolitan areas, communities must be able to provide employment opportunities. Job availability is always a priority for a growing community, but there is a growing trend seen in these modern times. Younger people are now looking at location before they decide on where they will work. They are seeking a quality of life first, job second. In the past, the place of employment was the driver, now the location and its attributes may influence the growth more than the availability of jobs. Many employees can work from their homes, so this phenomenon may increase more in the years to come.

One thing at the heart of all growing communities is a strong and vibrant retail base. Having all the essential retail services available in the city is critical for a city that wants to grow. Communities should recruit suitable retail and market themselves to attract retail investment. In states like Oklahoma, where general fund revenue comes from sales tax, cities that are not actively growing their retail base are in the process of decay whether they realize it or not.

Insightful, proactive planning helps enrich the experiences of residents, helps businesses in the area and helps cities make the transition into the next phase of growth. Cities are changing, and government officials must be sensitive to changing trends and demographics. The next generation of younger urban residents is much more demanding in their expectations of what “quality of life” means.

The retail sector is always connected to quality of life. Cities can influence growth and investment. Cities can and should market themselves to maximize retail growth and the corresponding sales tax revenue that retail brings to the table.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.