Chamber adding "Project Retail" to economic development strategic plan
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
By: Randy Allen
“Should the Chamber adopt a strategy to assist in the retail development process including attraction and retention as part of its economic development Work Plan?” “How can the Chamber work with local developers to enhance their recruitment efforts?” “In combating the growth of online retail sales, should the Chamber embark on a ‘support local’ campaign to assist local retailers and to educate local consumers on the benefits of spending dollars locally?” These were just a few of the questions the Chamber Board of Directors discussed at their recent retreat held at The LINC in April.
Historically, chambers of commerce and other economic development entities have focused their business attraction efforts on recruiting manufacturing and other business and industry to their communities and for the most part have left the retail recruitment up to local developers. Our Chamber has worked closely with developers and supported their efforts, but to date has not developed a strategy to actively pursue retail businesses to the community. In the past, this plan has been successful due to strong local developers; however, the landscape of retail is changing and there are even more challenges looming on the horizon.
Current challenges include a low unemployment rate, leading to a shallow labor pool to fill the jobs needed in the retail sector, decisions by national retail chains to locate in communities based on population, the availability of zoning in preferred areas and of course, the growing competition of on-line sales, especially to large companies like Amazon.
To address these challenges and determine what role the Chamber should play in retail attraction and retention, “Project Retail” was born. Two subcommittees were formed and are meeting to discuss questions such as those listed at the beginning of this article. The subcommittees and their mission are as follows:
* Retail Attraction – Develop a strategy to bring more retail options to JCMO including the possibility of sponsoring franchise fairs and seminars to connect local entrepreneurs to franchise opportunities
* Support Local - Create a 3S Support Local Campaign (Search-Shop-Support)
The Retail Attraction Committee is chaired by Holly Nunn, Central Bank and is staffed by Missy Bonnot, Director, Economic Development. Nathan Hays, Jefferson City Autoplex, chairs the Shop Local Committee which is staffed by Shaun Sappenfield, Existing Business Manager. Both Holly and Nathan are members of the Chamber Board of Directors and are excited about the committees they have assembled.
As a part of the retreat, the Board heard a presentation by John Simmons, Community Development Director, City of Sedalia. Sedalia has been successful in actively recruiting new retail business to their community. Mr. Simmons gave an overview of their retail attraction strategy and process, noting that their “One-Stop” Process to facilitate the ease of opening and sustaining business in Sedalia has made it much easier and attractive for retailers to locate to the community. He also highlighted some of the incentives used by the city in the attraction process.
The committees will be seeking public input through surveys as the process moves forward and as they develop strategic to work together with local developers to increase retail opportunities in our community for both consumers and business owners and entrepreneurs, and to increase an awareness of the importance of shopping locally and marketing our area retail businesses through a Support Local Campaign. The Chamber will appreciate your input.