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Thread: Business attraction plan

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Business attraction plan

    I am working on a business attraction plan for a community of about 1,000 people with few businesses in town. Does anyone know of any communities similar in size with a business attraction that I could view to get some ideas of where to start? Thanks alot.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The question should be: Do you know of a community of 1000 people that has a workable and realistic business attraction plan?

    In a global marketplace, it is generally pointless for such a community to try any of the standard gimmicks - branding, industry clusters, etc. In addition, there will be no professional staff to execute the attraction program. The local realtor, retired teacher, or part-time chamber director is not going to be effective. In all but the most rare of circumstances, the best approach for a community like this is to make sure it has some viable sites to offer and then actively partner with a regional organization that has the capacity to attract business.

    An economic developer I know likes to say that a marketing campaign takes $50,000 a year for three years to make any impact. I think he might be a bit low in his estimate.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    make sure it has some viable sites to offer and then actively partner with a regional organization that has the capacity to attract business.
    I think Cardinal is right on. I would ask this in addition. "What unique features does the town, have?" A compact mixed use urban core with several vacant
    buildings in structurally sound shape? If near an urban area with good access, maybe an antique/collectable, craft and art centered place could develop.

    Significant historical resources?

    Recreational opportunities - a lake, river, adjacent to apublic forest, trail system.

    Above all, a significant number of local residents have tobe ACTIVELY interested/involved for this to work. If you have a workshop and three people attend, be prepared to play Sisifus and push the rock up the hill over and over.

    One other thing... consider the current grant opportunities for ARRA funding for renewable energy projects.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I guess maybe we aren't looking at a full out plan, just something to put together which will help bring businesses to town such as a brochure or packet to showcase what we do have.

    The downtown is almost completely vacant with the exception of a gas station and some houses (all of which are now non-conforming uses). There is a large lake which attracts many visitors throughout the year and also hosts drag boat and rowing races, as well as a covered bridge which makes people stop. We are also located only 20 miles from a metropolitan area of 140,000+.

    Thanks for the input thus far and any other info would be greatly appreciated!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Ahhh.. Much different... I had pictured a town with ideas about attracting the next Toyota plant.

    What you describe reminds me quite a bit of Long Grove, Illinois, in the 1970's. It was little mor ethan a crossroads hamlet with a well-known confectionary and a handful of antique and craft shops. Like your town, there was also a covered bridge. Long Grove grew because it was obsorbed into the blob that we call Chicago's suburbs, but for a long time, it was the handful of unique shops anchored by the confectionery that kept the area alive.

    Another example is Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Ten years ago the downtown was nearly empty. Like your community, it had a population of 1500 and was 20 miles outside of Madison, not far off of routes to regional tourist attractions. We identified a concentration of artists in the area and created a vision for an arts-based economy in the historic and fortunately picturesque downtown. Much of the credit for pulling it off goes to one couple who opened the anchor business and then began working on some of the smaller buildings. Eventually others joined in, but it took their inspiration and investment to get things rolling.

    There are many techniques you might try. One of the most effective is to provide low-cost incubator space for the kinds of businesses you want to attract. For example, if you are trying to develop an arts/tourist economy, then acquire a couple of the vacant downtown buildings, fix them up, and make them avaialbe to local artists or persons who will start a gallery. Make sure they have a good business plan to become profitable without subsidized rent in perhaps two years.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I apologize for not making that clear at the start, and I don't think there would be much support for a business of that size anyway! We are just looking at some stores that can keep some of the visitor money in town as well as provide some basic necessities for the locals so they don't have to drive 20 miles for little things.

    I am familiar with Long Grove since I grew up outside Chicago and lived there until I came to Oregon for school. When you speak of art gallery's etc I think that is exactly what this town is looking for. Small unique shops that seperate the City from others.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Even if a town has NOTHING going for it, it will ways have the Public Realm. People dont go where businesses are, businesses go where the people are. Design a town with a boardwalk, trees, public art, this attracts more people into the town and with it, new businesses.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by samraen View post
    We are just looking at some stores that can keep some of the visitor money in town as well as provide some basic necessities for the locals so they don't have to drive 20 miles for little things.
    rather than trying to encourage outside businesses to move into town—which will not help keep (much) money in town—how about finding a way to assist people who are already local to start businesses.

    --don

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Much of the credit for pulling it off goes to one couple who opened the anchor business and then began working on some of the smaller buildings. Eventually others joined in, but it took their inspiration and investment to get things rolling.
    Cardnal is right on. That is the story with the Town of Havana, Florida. It was once a center for shade tobacco production (ag supplies, tobacco warehouses, and even a few flue cure barns in walking distance of downtown). Then, within a few years the tobacco was gone due to the vast amount of simi-skilled labor involved it moved offshore. The town was drying up. The downtown was essentally dead. Then a couple took over the vacant corner hardware store, opened an antique store and got other merchants interested. It worked!

    You might be able to lease a store or two or even get a free use for a couple of years. As Cardnal said, make the public realm great.

    Consider the core at least a mixed use area. You might have to change zoning?

    Sounds like a bead and breakfast might be in order if you can find someone to do it. Also a local restaurant is very helpful.

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