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Archive for January, 2014

Three Things City Leaders Must Know in 2014

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Making money is a good thing. Finding a river of revenue to fix budget leaks is always a good thing. More capital is a good thing whether you’re supporting one person, a family or a whole city. I enjoy my job because we help city governments identify and capture new sources of revenue. City and county administrators and elected officials must realize that they are responsible for only one thing. They are not responsible for making sure everybody in town is happy. They are responsible only for making sure there are enough public dollars to provide the services that provide the quality of life those living in the community demand. Although cities must (try) get to a zero budget at the close of every fiscal year, elected officials and city staff are actually involved in big boy corporate decisions just like the private sector. Cities are big business. If communities don’t demand a return on the investments they make, economic disaster can strike them just like poor decisions can sink a business in the corporate world.

I would boldly say there are three things every city manager or elected official must come to grips with as we look to the opportunities that await us all in this new year.

To begin with, you need to realize this fact: unless your community is a high growth area that is already in great demand from national retailers and restaurants, you are in a fight for your economic life. There are probably less than 30 markets around the country that fit this criteria and do not have to fight for development. That’s 30 out of 40,000 cities across the US. To make matters worse, if your community is a small or medium sized market and you are not already making strategic moves to market your city on the big stage, your town is already so far behind you had better learn to live off crumbs, because that is all that’s left. If your community is not proactively taking steps to make the retail world take notice you better get comfortable with the small revenues you are generating now. Sadly in many places public infrastructure continues to deteriorate, police cars and public buildings deteriorate, streets deteriorate, and with all that deterioration so goes the quality of life. Communities need to strategically plan for the future and do what they can do to stay as competitive as they can possibly be.

Secondly, city leaders should know that they will get the best bang for their buck and the best return on their investment by letting a qualified, third party entity like Retail Attractions take their market info and data to the retail development world. Simple as that. City managers and elected officials should do what they do best, and that is to run cities. Hire a professional to recruit retail and work with the developers. Be ready to interact with the private sector when the time comes, be educated about development, be business friendly and streamline the process of development, but let a professional take your community’s story to the watching world.

Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, city managers and elected officials and city leaders should understand the value of a wisely crafted public / private partnership. Unless there is some extenuating circumstance no development is going to happen in small and medium markets (and some large markets) without some type of public incentive. These incentives are not complicated and should be thought of as something that benefits both the public and private sectors. Retail deals are much tougher to do in this modern economic climate. They are harder to finance, they carry more risk, and there is much more competition than there has been in the past.

Don’t be frustrated. Can you change the direction your community is heading? Absolutely! Even if your city is headed the right direction, you can always benefit from professional assistance. Retail Attractions can help. Call soon. We are ready to get to work for you.

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.