September 6, 2018 10:42:07 AM
Last month, the Columbus City Council decided to hire a firm to pursue retail development for the city in lieu of continuing its relationship with the Golden Triangle Development LINK, which had previously provided that service.
We think this decision compliments the LINK's mission of bringing primary jobs to the area and are pleased with how the city has approached choosing a firm to do that job.
In recent years, the city has not always cast a wide net when seeking consulting firms. There are a few recent examples. In 2013, when the city decided it needed to hire a project management firm, the council considered just one firm -- J5 Broaddus. Likewise, when the city first considered hiring a retail development firm in 2014, it heard a presentation from just one firm before abandoning the idea. A similar situation existed when a bus company wanted to set up service in town. We have long-maintained the city benefits from identifying a need, looking at multiple options for filling that need and then making a decision.
This time, the city is doing just that and casting a wide net. We currently have proposals from five retail development firms: NaviRetail of Memphis, Tennessee; Next Site of Birmingham, Alabama; Brick + Mortar of Tupelo, The Retail Coach, also of Tupelo; and Buxton Company of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
As to be expected, all of the firms were in agreement on many of the basic functions, such things as data collection and market research. But during the course of the presentations, it was clear that each of the firms have their own unique approaches. Some are relative newcomers. Some have been in business for years. Some have a small client base. Others have a large number of clients. And, finally, it may come down to intangibles. Sometimes, it comes down to which firm just seems to be the right fit. That's important. The city is not looking for the best firm: It is looking for the best firm for Columbus.
Quotes ranged from about $25,000 per year to $50,000. Price shouldn't necessarily be the driving factor though.
Listening to each company's presentation provides the council plenty of options as it determines which firm best suits the city's needs. We believe also, that the presentations may have given the council a better understanding of retail development as a whole. The council has been able to listen, learn and ask questions as it weighs its decision and makes its choice.
Selecting the company that is the best fit for Columbus is a decision that could make a significant impact on sales tax collections in years to come.
We trust the council will carefully study the information that has been made available to them and make the best choice for the city.