Chamber eyes retail recruitment
by Jack McNeely
Feb 17, 2013 | 3235 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chuck 
Branch
Chuck Branch
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A Birmingham-based company with a proven track record in retail recruitment has been retained to bolster the retail offerings throughout Walker County.

The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County Board of Directors voted unanimously recently to hire Retail Strategies, Inc. (RSI), which focuses on retail demographic data, retail tenant representation, retail project leasing, retail brokerage and retail property management.

“Now is the time to be aggressive in retail recruitment,” said Linda Lewis, executive director of the local chamber of commerce. “The chamber is committed to the retail community and the consumers here in Walker County. We realize there are holes to fill within the local retail community and that is why we have retained the services of Retail Strategies.”

The multi-year investment will help the local chamber reinvigorate its retail recruitment plan while supplementing the role industrial development plays in the local economy, Lewis added.

“Most people are aware of the fact that a new manufacturing plant provides new job opportunities and increased payroll, which help merchants and professionals alike,” Lewis said. “While we understand the importance of industrial development, many fail to realize that other business activities such as retail, service and commercial concerns also provide steady employment and play a vital role in the overall economic landscape."

Decision Data Resources, a critical arm of Retail Strategies, will accumulate demographic spending data in the first phase of the multi-year contract. That data will help identify retail gaps, or areas of retail spending outside Walker County.

“Communities are starting to understand that the only way to increase their tax base locally is to increase retail sales,” said Chuck Branch, managing partner for Decision Data Resources.

And increasing retail sales comes through recruiting new retailers, he noted.

To that end, Retail Strategies has already begun its initial market research and is scheduled to return by mid-March to present its findings to the local chamber.

“Our first goal is to take the market analysis and identify the revenue gaps, where money is leaving Jasper and Walker County,” explained Branch. “This is the money currently being spent by Walker County residents in retail markets like Birmingham, Cullman and Tuscaloosa.”

Although the data will be used to create a strategic recruitment plan that will certainly help recruit new retail, he noted the data will also help existing retailers and local entrepreneurs grow their business by identifying new opportunities.

“I want everyone to understand that we are just as interested in helping those folks doing business in Walker County today,” Branch said.

Furthermore, Retail Strategies will use the local market analysis as a recruitment tool during the upcoming annual convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas this May.

For more information about Retail Strategies, Inc., go to: www.retailstrategies.com.