The company's mission is to assist the city in bringing new retail
ventures to Lincoln through their marketing and recruitment program
On April 15, Chip Rodgers of Retail Strategies gave a presentation
to the council regarding what the firm could do for the city.
Rodgers is not unknown to the city, as he came before the council
in 2009, when he worked for Buxton. That was also a retail marketing
firm, which offered some good information but did not actually fill
the requirements for the city's needs.
Rodgers has since left Buxton and is now a part of Retail
Strategies. He and Mayor Keith Snyder recently connected again when
Snyder attended the International Council of Shopping Centers
When presenting to the city, Rodgers said that Retail Strategies
offers the complete package, so the city will have to do very little
work. In contrast, he said that Buxton would have provided the city
with the tools, but the actual recruitment of new business would
have been on the city.
With these types of companies, there are a variety of steps that
have to be taken in order to successfully bring new retailers into
Retail Strategies will study the market area, do studies on what
shoppers within a certain radius of Lincoln are shopping for, and
will identify the gaps in retail offerings in Lincoln.
Rodgers said this is the foundation of a retail strategic plan
for the city.
In addition, the firm will look at available space in the city,
in the downtown area as well as on the edges of town, where larger
retailers might be interested.
In many cases, this is where marketing firms stop. They provide
the client with information and direct them to trade shows and
prospects, but it becomes the work of the municipality to go to the
shows, reach out to the prospects and hopefully bring new business
to the town.
Rodgers said his firm will go beyond the norm and will do all of
the legwork for the city. Retail Strategies will develop a list of
prospective new businesses according to the gaps they identify. Then
they will pursue those businesses with the intention of bringing
them to Lincoln. He said they would also be the ones to attend the
trade shows and sell the city to prospective developers.
[to top of second column]
During the discussion period, Snyder asked what kind of
timeline Rodgers had for the city. Rodgers replied that the
research and analysis, along with developing marketing
materials, would probably take a year. He noted that it is a
four-year program he was presenting, so the following three
years would be focused on bringing new businesses to the city.
Because Retail Strategies represents other cities in central
Illinois, there were questions about towns competing against one
another for new businesses. Rodgers said stores look at distance
between businesses and also that his firm weighs which business is
best suited to a town. The firm, he said, works to avoid putting
cities in a position of competing against each other.
Rodgers was also asked about building business in the downtown
area and if that would be included in his focus. He said it would.
He noted that bringing businesses into a small downtown area offers
its own challenges, in that it is more of the "local entrepreneur,
small business" type that is interested in downtown areas. Larger
retail chains often don't want to locate in downtown areas because
there isn't enough available space.
In discussing the fee for Retail Strategies, Snyder reminded the
council that they allowed for $25,000 in the current year budget,
which had not yet been spent. In addition, there will be $25,000 in
the new budget year. The two combined will pay the first half of the
fee to Retail Strategies.
When the item came up for a vote last week, the council supported
it unanimously with all eight council members present.
Rodgers had told the city that once hired, the firm would start
right away and would expect to be back before the council within six
to eight weeks with reports on the first of its research.
[By NILA SMITH]