Economic Development Takes Time and Patience

Posted by Rickey Hayes on June 22, 2010 in Blog | No Comments

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Consumers drive our economy. So what happens when the average consumer feels uncertain about their financial future and decides to hold off buying that new refrigerator or pair of blue jeans? The economy slows down. And when the economy slows down the process of economic development slows down. It is the age old concept of supply and demand. It is hard for retailers to justify building new stores when the shoppers are spending less.

Economic development is a process that has always required time and patience. Consider the retail boom in Owasso, Oklahoma that occurred in 2003-2005. It is naïve to think that it only took two years for the 4.2 million square feet of retail to arrive. The real secret was the residential growth than began 15 years earlier. Owasso was building over 500 new homes per year, and the demographics for the residents were ideal for retailers, a young population with considerable disposable income. Even with all the stars aligned, it took Owasso 6 years from vision to implementation. The storefronts that opened in 2005 were planned in 2000 and inked in 2002 and 2003. It took years for the national retailers to finally open and begin producing revenue for the community. The moral of the story: economic development takes up to six years even in the ideal environment.

Communities pursuing retail development must understand that the process is slow and tedious. Retail development is a process. Our first step is to identify and verify a trade area that accurately depicts the demographics of the consumer base. From there we work with our clients to determine retailers that compliment the opportunity gap for the trade area. At this point, many firms will hand over a report and call the project complete, but this is where our firm gets down to the real work. Using our network of retail contacts, we begin selling your community to the retail world.

We normally contract on an annual basis, but our clients know that a year typically doesn’t produce tangible results. The first year we focus on educating retailers about our clients, making sure retailers know where our clients are located and key demographics for the surrounding trade area. Once we identify retailers who are interested in our client communities, we begin to discuss what it will take to make a deal happen. The time involved depends on the level of interest and the aggressiveness of the retailer’s growth plan.

The bottom line is that economic development takes patience and time, and there are no short cuts. To locate national retailers in your community you must first let them know that you exist and then let them know what you are willing to do to make the deal. Retail Attractions has extensive experience in these negotiations. Contact us to see how we can help your community in their pursuit of economic development.

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.

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