Examining retail development

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Virginia Growth Alliance is currently measuring retail growth opportunities across the Heart of Virginia.

Jeffrey Reed

According to County Purchasing Agent/Planner Monica Elder, “the members of Virginia’s Growth Alliance have hired Retail Strategies LLC to help us identify retail development opportunities in our communities.”

Charlotte County is a member of the VGA.

In May, a request for proposals (RFP) from VGA was issued for retail development services. According to the RFP, “various communities throughout the region serve as retail hubs for the greater region. VGA requires capable and competent Retail Development Services plans to strengthen existing retail hubs, identify new opportunities, capture outflowing purchases and to fill identified market gaps.”

Retail Strategies LLC of Birmingham, Alabama, was awarded the contract on June 12.

Based on its website, Retail Strategies LLC is a national retail firm that works to partner with areas all over the nation to help grow retail opportunities. The firm has been contracted for a period of one year.

“We’re doing it through nine of our localities,” said VGA Executive Director Jeffrey Reed. The Virginia Growth Alliance includes the counties of Charlotte, Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Cumberland, Emporia, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.

He said the consultants were hired to help figure out where the leakage is and what retail services individuals are going out of town to receive.

Elder said in order to start the process, the firm is asking that a survey be completed to address local needs, potential sites and local incentives.

The survey includes questions such as those relating to the number of major retailers that have left the area in the past 36 months, the most requested retail categories and the interest of retailers to located to the communities.

A Charlotte County Community Profile provided by the VGA outlined the current major employers in the county as Cardinal Homes, Genesis Products Inc., Tate Lumber Company, Inc., Southside Virginia Community College and United Parcel Service.

“Over 50 retail and service-related stores are located in the county,” the profile cites. “The downtown areas of Charlotte Court House, Keysville, Drakes Branch and Phenix support a variety of retail establishments. The county’s close proximity to Lynchburg and Farmville provides additional shopping and entertainment options, including a mall and numerous neighborhood retail centers,” according to the profile.

Reed said after the surveys are completed, the next step will include realistically attempting to fill the gaps in the county to stop some of the leakage.

He said the VGA was conducting the survey to help support existing businesses and hopefully attract more customers to the region.

The survey can be accessed at http://retailstrategies.info/getting-to-know-your-community/. Elder said all surveys need to be completed by Friday.