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Archive for April, 2012

Focusing on the Right Things

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Communities around this country are doing everything they can to position themselves ahead of the pack in their economic development efforts. It is very common for a city to create and share marketing “propaganda” touting the many reasons why their particular community is the best place in the free world for investment. We are not saying this isn’t an important element, but there is a problem with relying on this approach. Our firm has heard from those receiving these materials. In many cases they don’t even take the time to look at them, no matter how glossy, slick, or gaudy they may be. What retailers are looking for in a city is the answer to one simple question: “Will our company make a profit in this market?” If the answer to that question is yes, then the follow-up question is: “How efficiently can we get open and get our goods to market?”

While it is important for you to have accurate, current data on your market for you to execute an educated and informed development effort, you need to know that retailers and restaurants will come armed with their own data. They are experts at researching and analyzing markets, and having demographics that meet their requirements is only the first step. What they are looking for in their next site is a community willing to partner with them and help to ensure a good return on their investment. To show retailers you are ready to form partnerships, a city needs to take action internally as well as externally.

Externally, cities need to hire professionals to recruit new investment. The retail world is a tight knit community, and you need someone who is known and respected within the development arena. We have often been surprised at how quickly news and reputations can pass through the retail community. Having an advocate for your community within this world is a necessity. Internally, communities need to focus on making the development process as seamless and painless as possible by eliminating the obstacles. The regulatory environment in a city can quickly become a quagmire of bureaucratic red tape, delays, fees, and any number of other nightmares for the development community. The most troubling thing to me about this is that most cities don’t have the slightest clue that they have a problem in this area. Streamlining the development process should be at the forefront of concerns for any team of progressive city administrators.

Cities should treat retailers and developers like they were welcomed customers. I’m not talking about loosening development standards and lowering expectations. I’m talking about finding creative ways to partner with the private sector. This partnership will help to improve quality of life for your citizens, create sales tax revenue for your city budgets, and stop retail leakage caused by your citizens leaving town to purchase goods and services that they would love to buy at home.

Call us. We can help.

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.