City has retail potential

Published 7:34 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

By Staff
We all see them every day: empty parking lots and abandoned buildings where once retail stores attracted regular customers.
No doubt about it, the sight is frustrating.
But not if you see those buildings as opportunities — and all it takes is a little imagination and a lot of hard work.
City officials are working to attract retail to the area, whether in new facilities such as the strip mall near the new Walmart or old buildings such as the former Rite Aid or old Walmart.
Truth be told, we have already weathered a difficult economy with some good news. We have new retail under construction on the north end of town, and the potential exists for so much more.
The benefit, of course, is that retail brings tax dollars — and shoppers from other communities.
The city is armed with a detailed demographic study that shows the buying habits within Brewton's trade area — a study that shows some interesting opportunities for the city to seek new retail.
The study alone isn’t enough; the city needs both a detailed strategy for seeking retail, and a lot of patience in dealing with the process.
And we, as residents, need to help with both.
Attracting retail is a lot like attracting industry.
Working with developers and retail representatives can take time, especially in an economy when people are gun-shy about making big moves. But the city has been laying the groundwork for months by communicating with potential retailers; it will just take some patience on everyone’s part to weather the economic storm.
And, just as in attracting industry, developers could come to Brewton when we least expect it — and without our knowing.
So it helps if we are always on the ball with a clean community, strong customer service and friendly faces.
Those buildings, and more, will be filled. But it will take a detailed plan and help from all of us.

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