By KEELEY MOREE
• Leader & Times
City commissioners will take a look into a new option for boosting retail business growth in Liberal during tonight’s city commission meeting.
According to Economic Development Director Jeff Parsons, Liberal’s retail businesses help generate sales tax revenue to be used for different initiatives in Liberal. In 2012, the one-cent sales tax provided more than $4 million dollars in revenue for varied uses throughout the community.
“In order to increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of our efforts at recruiting retail businesses to Liberal, staff would like to suggest to the commission that the city hire Retail Attractions, a retail recruiting firm from Owasso, Okla.,” Parsons wrote in a memo to commissioners.
Parsons went on to explain that, “Retail Attractions is a firm whose specialty is connecting retail businesses with communities. Their process is to build a profile of Liberal to validate us as a location for additional retail, and then begin to present Liberal as a possible home to their national network of retailers, brokers and developers. If projects are developed, Retail Attractions will work with the city, developer and retailer through the entire process in order to bring the project to a successful conclusion.”
If hired, the cost to work with Retail Attractions would include a one-time charge of $3,500 dollars for a market analysis and leakage study to be used in the recruitment of retail businesses. A consultation fee of $1,500 dollars per month for 12 months – which could be extended – brings the first year total to $21,500 dollars. Parsons explained that the funds would come from the Economic Development portion of the sales tax budget.
Parsons said Retail Attractions president Rickey Hayes has done initial research on Liberal’s demographics and that he was impressed by Liberal’s proven retail draw, available developable land, traffic flow and physical layout.
“Retail recruitment is a slow process. Having the assistance of a consultant with the right connections will increase both the pace of the process and our chance of successful outcomes,” Parsons stated in the memo.
The commission will vote on whether or not to allow Economic Development to proceed in negotiating contract expectations and details with Retail Attractions. Parsons said he hopes to bring Hayes to Liberal in March for a final presentation and vote on a contract.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 6:30 inside the city commission chambers located at 325 N. Washington.