City recruits for retailers

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A spokesman for the consultant helping Washington recruit retailers to the city said by this time next year there “better be a ribbon-cutting or two” or his company will not have done its job.
Robert Jolly Jr., a spokesman for Retail Strategies, hired by the city for $30,000 to help it in retail recruitment and retention efforts, made that comment in response to Councilman Richard Brooks’ question about where Retail Strategies would have the city positioned next year. Brooks’ question and Jolly’s response came during the council’s Oct. 8 meeting.
During that meeting, Jolly gave a presentation on how Retail Strategies, based in Birmingham, Ala., is developing its plan for the city. Basically, Retail Strategies works with regional and national retailers, trying to find places where those retailers could successfully locate.
“It is becoming a commonly held principle within municipalities across the country that retail is the new industry relative to increasing a community’s economic tax base,” Jolly told the council. “Maximizing retail potential enhances a community’s vitality, creates a stable employment platform and improves the quality of life within a community.”
Jolly said Retail Strategies’ primary focus is on the recruitment of a full-service restaurant and national grocery chain to complement the existing mix of retailers in the Washington market. The secondary focus is on the development of a strategic plan to recruit a national clothing store.
Jolly’s presentation included a list of retail establishments — bookstores, clothing accessories stores, hardware stores and others — that would fill in the gaps in the existing Washington retail community.
“Retail Strategies will utilize the research to create and manage for Washington a retail recruitment strategic plan that will identify key retail categories and specific retailers that would be targeted to fill the spending gaps identified in the research,” Jolly said.
Many retailers are “starving to grow,” Jolly said, adding that if “you can get their attention with real information and real data that turns their head and makes sense to them … the ones that are still out there are actually looking for new deals and new opportunities to expand.”
“We’ve had success stories, some very small and some significant, in most every community we work for,” Jolly added.
“A year from now, we want to be sitting here with a renewal contract for y’all to approve because you’ve been pleased with the recruitment success we’ve had in the first year. Whether it’s one exciting announcement or a whole shopping center, we’re going to get after it as your recruitment partner to maximize the potential here in the market,” Jolly said.
City Manager Josh Kay said what Retail Strategies offers that other similar consultants don’t provide is flexibility and a developer-focused approach to retail recruitment. Kay also said the city plans to share the information developed by Retail Strategies with groups such as the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Washington Harbor District Alliance to help grow and improve existing businesses.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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