Alabaster hires firm to recruit retailers

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Alabaster City Council voted during an April 11 meeting to hire the Retail Strategies company to recruit new retailers to the city. (File)

The Alabaster City Council voted during an April 11 meeting to hire the Retail Strategies company to recruit new retailers to the city. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster will spend a total of $110,000 over the next three years to hire a company to attract new businesses to the city after the City Council approved a service agreement with the company during an April 11 meeting.

Council members voted unanimously during the meeting to hire the Retail Strategies company to recruit businesses on behalf of the city over the next three years. As a result of the service agreement, the city will pay Retail Strategies $40,000 this year and $35,000 during each of the following two years.

The vote came a few days after Retail Strategies employee Brooke Holbert made a presentation to council members during an April 7 work session.

“We believe there is potential in every city we go into,” Holbert said. “You are looking at the possibility of hiring a company to recruit retail for you. We are in a hyper-growth phase across the nation and across the world right now with shopping centers.”

As a result of the agreement, Retail Strategies will work to perform a market analysis and strategic plan focused on identifying Alabaster’s trade area, its local consumer demographics and consumer spending trends, Holbert said. The company also will perform an analysis of Alabaster’s existing buildings and real estate in an effort to identify possible areas of growth, and will seek community input on which types of retailers locals would like to see, he said.

“That whole process usually takes about 90 days, but the beauty of it is that you are right here in our hometown,” Holbert said, noting Retail Strategies is headquartered in Birmingham. “That makes it a lot easier for us to get down here and do that analysis.”

Once the analysis is completed, Retail Strategies will begin working to recruit businesses to the city, Holbert said.

“Now is a great opportunity. We are in a hot time, because fast-casual restaurants are expanding all over the country. We believe there is a lot of potential right here in Alabaster,” Holbert said. “We don’t actually make the deal. We connect the dots so the retail deals can happen.”

Alabaster City Manager George Henry said Retail Strategies’ approach is different from many other business recruiting firms. After the company works to recruit the businesses, the Alabaster Commercial Development Authority and Industrial Development Board will work to ink deals with the new retailers, Henry said.

“We’ve met with retail folks who do the analysis, and we’ve met with people who want to be our recruiter. They (Retail Strategies) do both,” Henry said. “That’s a unique setup that is not found a lot in this marketplace.”

Henry said the city has defined multiple areas for future retail growth, including the area surrounding the new Walmart Neighborhood Market off Alabama 119 and the area near the intersection of Alabama 119 and Thompson Road.

Retail Strategies currently works with several cities, including Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Tuscaloosa and Starkville, Miss.

“We are gong to get a lot of retailers excited about your community, and we are going to try to get those retailers interested in coming to your community,” Holbert said.