Chelsea leaders consider partnering with retail advisory firm

The Chelsea City Council heard a presentation from Charles Branch with Retail Strategies, a Birmingham-based national advisory firm the city could partner with to expand retail in the area. (Contributed)

The Chelsea City Council heard a presentation from Charles Branch with Retail Strategies, a Birmingham-based national advisory firm the city could partner with to expand retail in the area. (Contributed)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – City leaders are considering working with a Birmingham-based retail advisory firm to bring more businesses to the ever-growing Chelsea area.

Charles Branch with Retail Strategies spoke to the Chelsea City Council at a pre-council meeting March 17 about ways the firm could help Chelsea market itself to retailers, provide more jobs, increase tax revenue and improve the overall quality of life for the city’s more than 10,000 residents.

“There are a lot of really great things happening in Chelsea,” Branch said during his presentation. “We want to partner with the city to recruit more retail.”

Retail Strategies is comprised of 29 team members who work with more than 100 municipalities in 22 states to expand retail and boost economic development in each area.

Branch said the process starts with market research and analysis, strategic planning and retail recruitment involving property owners, developers and brokers.

Other aspects of development the firm assists municipalities with are site selection, real estate planning, looking at demographics and cultivating merchandising efforts and marketing campaigns.

“We’re going to work hand-in-hand with you here in Chelsea,” Branch said. “We’re looking at all facets of retail.”

The firm would also compile a “targeted retail properties catalog” to highlight development zones and a retail prospect list and marketing guide.

Branch said the initial contract would be for three years. The cost for the firm’s services the first year would be $30,000, then $25,000 for the second and third years each.

“I think it’s something that’s really going to affect us,” Niven said of the proposal. “We’ve got a lot to be proud of, but this is going to help us contact the businesses we think we’re ready for.”

Niven said Chelsea’s business license and sales tax revenues have increased over the last few years. In 2010, the city’s $176,000 in business license revenue doubled to $330,000 in 2014.

Chelsea’s sales tax revenue increased from $3.1 million in 2010 to $5.4 million in 2014, he said.

“We have the need for business,” Niven said. “Our statistics show we have grown. The future of Chelsea is in front of us.”

Niven urged council members to think about the proposal and be ready to vote on it at the next regular council meeting, which is scheduled for March 31.