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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - City to unveil retail study findings Thursday

Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - City to unveil retail study findings Thursday

Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - City to unveil retail study findings Thursday

DeWayne Grice

        Few things coming out of City Hall are more exciting than the Retail Strategies study they commissioned last year.
        Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers, Chuck Branch, a partner with Retail Strategies, LLC, will present the findings to the community. When City Manager Frank Parker took over in 2011 development in the city was experiencing a downward spiral. Together, with the department heads, city council and Mandi Cody, the director of Planning and Development, they started surveying local developers to identify barriers.
        From this they focused on streamlining city development processes and creating a more development friendly regulatory environment.
        The changes helped foster the explosive growth in student housing over the past few years, but the city continued struggling to recruit national retail chains. We all hear rumors about a popular grocery store or big box retailer locating here only to have those doused repeatedly.
        Codi learned that, "the developers looking to bring some missing pieces to our community discovered that the census data did not represent our community well enough to make the sell and we would be eliminated from consideration."
        In the past, they primarily relied on census data which underrepresented college students.
        Frustrated by these near misses, the council authorized Codi to bring in Branch's firm in to help them gather the data to prove that we are a regional hub for education, medicine and retail.
        According to Branch, they use multiple software and data tools with data coming from both government sources (Census, BLS, BEA, American Community Survey) and private sources (AGS, ESRI, Claritas, Experian, etc...) The data provides research ranging from core demographics, household consumer expenditures, market segmentation, consumer behavior and attitudes, retail GAP analysis, to identifying peer communities.
        Branch said, "All of this will help the city and developers understand which retailers show a propensity to locate in certain trade areas. Making retailers aware of the potential from this demographic opens or re-opens some doors"
        I have reviewed the preliminary presentation given to city leadership by the firm. Some of it confirms what we already expect; other areas of the report surprised me.
         Branch expressed that property owners, developers and commercial realtors are logical beneficiaries to this presentation. I also agree with Branch "that many existing businesses can use the research results to better understand the consumer market for goods and services which can lead to new opportunities."
        The city sent out email invitations to business and civic leaders in town inviting them to the presentation. Codi expects a large crowd and requests folks planning to attend to either email them at or call (912) 764-0630, so they can make plans for an overflow crowd, if necessary.

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