Retail Attractions, LLC
To be successful in the development world, a city must have integrity, character, and be true to the promises it makes. Reputation goes a long way, and it also goes both ways. A community with a good reputation that is known for being true to the promises it makes and being pro-development has a head start in the recruitment of national retail. A city with a bad reputation in the development world has a tough time convincing anybody to invest. A city that changes directions in the middle of a deal or promises incentives and then reneges may laugh it off, but a developer won’t think it’s funny. In fact, it may cost that developer thousands of dollars in engineering and design costs.
In this economy, when retailers are really examining sites and new market entry, communities that understand the retail development process are miles ahead. Cities that can position themselves to partner with the private sector to alleviate problems and provide incentives for investment are ready to reap the additional revenues that new retail growth brings to cities.
Most cities that are striving to recruit retail investment into their communities make several common errors. Most assume that they are ready to market themselves just as they are and that retailers are going to come anyway in time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cities can and should market themselves with every available tool and technology.
Another fundamental mistake is the notion that a city can have no positive influence on a potential retailer’s site selection. Communities can and should work to influence the retailers decision to invest by providing the right data and having that data organized and easily understandable. But before sending the same old city propaganda to a potential retailer, it would be wise to take a good long look at the foundational development philosophy that currently exists in the governmental bureaucracy of a community’s development department. Perhaps the most important thing that a city can do is to make absolutely sure that the regulatory arm of the organization is “development friendly”. If a city is touting their market strengths, traffic counts, and disposable income to developers and retail site selectors, they need to make sure a pro-development atmosphere exists in the local governmental infrastructure; otherwise no matter how much marketing they do, an internal foe is sabotaging their efforts. Like I have said before: All it takes is one rogue building inspector to kill a retail deal potentially worth millions.