COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – “If you build it, they will come.”
It’s a great movie line, but does it work when it comes to bringing new retail businesses to your town.
Renovating old buildings and building new stores.
It’s all on the table for the retail consultant hired by the city of Columbus.
Retail Coach Project Director Will Kline’s team is in Columbus.
He says the city’s story can be the game changer for retailers, developers, and brokers across the country.
A part of the Friendly City’s success is the Air Force Base.
“Another, is just its proximity to other popular towns, including Starkville, Mississippi State, and so a lot of people are in the area. We’ve identified a trade area population here in Columbus, so in our world, that’s essentially saying that this many people shop regularly in Columbus, which is 60,000 people.”
The number of people in Columbus and the amount of people it attracts is another base retailers want to reach.
“They’re going to spend this much of their money on these retail goods and services. You fit a certain category. I think you can make money here, so ultimately, what I want to do is to present the market in a way, obviously in a positive light, to potential prospects who may have an interest to be successful here, but it’s their decision if they truly believe can be successful.”
When you highlight a town’s advantages, marketers like Kline, also have to highlight its disadvantages and work to score the retailers.
“I think it takes an understanding from a local government of what the possibilities of Leigh Mall could be and that’s a role that we’re going to help the city realize and from there, once we kind of understand what we have, what we’re dealing with, and then, I think we take take that story and try to search for a developer.”
Kline believes the mall could actually be an advantage over other competing towns.
“To my knowledge, there isn’t a mall area in both Starkville or West Point, and again, I believe Columbus is the principal city, retail wise, in the Golden Triangle. I think healthcare as well, and so a number of people come here to work, come here to dine, come here to shop.”
Kline believes the Lee Middle School project is something else that might help the city land a home-run.
“Moving dirt is always a positive thing and people always tend to be interested. This particular property doesn’t have a lot of dirt moving right now, but but there is a lot of construction going on in the inside and I’m really excited because that part of town, that sort of 82 area, I think is an emerging retail district and this may be the centerpiece or the anchor that the market needs.”