Foley proposes economic development through Retail Strategies

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 4/9/18

FOLEY – Foley council approved during the April 2 meeting to sign a contract between the city and Retail Strategies, which specializes in recruitment strategies.

“Council decided not to …

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Foley proposes economic development through Retail Strategies

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FOLEY – Foley council approved during the April 2 meeting to sign a contract between the city and Retail Strategies, which specializes in recruitment strategies.

“Council decided not to replace our full-time position for Economic Development,” said Mike Thompson, city administrator. “What we’ve been looking at is engaging a professional services firm that would represent the city in some of these retail recruitment activities.”

The agreement made by the city and Retail Strategies will fund the company for the remainder of the 17-18 fiscal year at the cost of $30,000. For a full year the total cost is $50,000. Retail Strategies will begin representing the city effective immediately, and will be going to represent Foley at the upcoming RECON event in Las Vegas, taking place in May. In addition, the company will be attending many such retail recruitment events that are held regionally, something the city did not do in the past, expanding their reach. During such events, Retail Strategies would attend on behalf of the city of Foley after speaking with city officials to determine the types of retail and restaurants to bring to the area.

The company states on their website: “Retail Strategies is a full-service consulting firm that develops and implements long-term retail real estate strategies for municipalities and economic development agencies. Our process involves a team of experienced experts making connections between the public and private sector in a complex industry. Information, persistence and focus minimizes hurdles, accelerates timeliness and increases economic development in a competitive environment.”

By signing on with the company, the city will reduce costs and travel expenses of sending representatives to these recruitment events. Another cost saving feature coming with Retail Strategies is obtaining data analytics.

“We used Retail Strategies for about three years for just data analytics in the past,” said Thompson. “With this contract, we get access to their data analytics as well. They have a staff probably three times larger than their next closest competitor, so their ability to represent us nationally is enhanced. And we’re spending about $16,000 a year anyway on data analytics, and this includes data analytics plus representation.”

Having worked with Retail Strategies before, Thompson stated that the company is already familiar with the area, and would have a good grasp on what the city was looking to bring in. He said that there were three primary focuses for the company.

“One of the issues they would focus on would be backfilling vacant areas,” said Thompson. “For example, Ryan’s and IHOP, those are two very good locations, good buildings. Retail Strategies would help the property owners there to backfill those buildings. Also, our downtown, obviously. We’ve been moving forward positively in downtown, but we haven’t hit our full potential there yet, so have them help us with retailers and restaurants that might focus in historic downtown and pushing those types of potential partners our way. And then finally working with developers in our market who are trying to develop new retail facilities throughout the city. So really those three things I think are what we’d want to focus most on.”

According to Retail Strategies’ website, the company has worked with cities such as Moline, Illinois; Jasper, Alabama; Mountain Brook, Alabama; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Under their Success Story Tab, the company shows to work with businesses such as Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fresh Market, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as local business owners. They work with tenants and malls as well as stand-alone businesses.

According to councilman Ralph Hellmich, another plus is Retail Strategies involvement and familiarity with the Main Street Alabama program, which the city is pushing for currently. The representatives at Retail Strategies have worked hand in hand with the program’s employees in the past, something that would be beneficial to Foley, says Hellmich.

Retail Strategies will begin representing the city at regional and national events within the next few months, and city officials are hoping to both reduce costs as well as expand their reach while bringing new development into the area.