The City of Lamar and various interests in Prowers County, including PEP, have taken some aggressive steps in 2016 and this year, to develop and sustain business development and retention in the local communities. One of these was last year’s hiring of Buxton by the City of Lamar, a research and marketing firm which, as part of their services, conducts in depth surveys of buying trends in a given community. These include name brands, demographics of shoppers, buying habits and demands for services and goods which may not be locally available.
Several business development opportunities were discussed during a meeting of the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board and Angie Cue, Community Development Manager on Monday, April 3rd. Cue prefaced her remarks with background on the Buxton Company which has been hired by the City of Lamar to develop marketing strategies which can lead to a retail development program. Cue said Buxton has identified specific retailers to seek markets with household purchasing habits like those in Lamar.
Cheyenne Robinson of Buxton presented an update of the company’s study of Lamar, noting the study helps determine the dollar value of our retail sales leakage to other communities. Data about our buying and browsing habits is taken from numerous sources. Buxton has identified retail leakage from numerous industries and listed 20 matches that the city could pursue. To date, three retailers are either purchasing property in Lamar or seeking franchise entrepreneurs to expand to Lamar.
Over 250 consumer and business databases were researched to define the city’s current retail situation and those neighboring communities that impact the local retail environment. Generally, shopping is conducted by convenience; distance based on time not mileage and this was factored into local shopping patterns.
Details for Lamar show that credit card spending is comprised of 38% residents and 62% visitor. Suggestions included attracting new retailers and restaurants to fill in shopping gaps in Lamar such as a fine dining restaurant, men’s clothing stores and other retailers which could fill vacant, Main Street buildings.
Other goals included taking steps to retain existing retailers and restaurants, support local entrepreneurs and investors in opportunities that exist in town, understand current retail and restaurant economic conditions and understand residents’ and visitors’ impact on the local economy and determine their media preferences to market Lamar to potential visitors.
Shore Arts Center Park
The authority approved using $17,650 from the LRA budget to complete the first phase of the Pocket Park construction. “There is about three weeks of work to go, pending weather conditions,” Cue told the board members. Once completed, the project will help create outdoor space downtown and helps create needed energy for downtown marketing.
The completion of the park can be seen as a way to improve downtown sales, provide an urban park for residents and visitors alike and help improve the quality of life for residents. Cue recapped how the Pocket Park bid for construction came in much higher than estimated, almost three times as much, so the program was divided and funded in two segments. Phase one is underway which contains the bulk of infrastructure development, leaving flooring (pavers) pergola and painting for the second phase of completion. Additional grant funding is being sought for the second phase.
New Business – Gateway Safety Products
Gateway Safety Products plans to open a light manufacturing business for highway safety flares which are used by law enforcement, ski resorts, trucking companies and other traffic affiliated businesses. The company, which originated in Trinidad, has one other national competitor, and the new owner plans to relocate to Lamar which will create five new primary jobs. It was explained to the board that Lamar was a more obvious choice after the owner assessed the cost of beginning a business in properties along the Front Range. The building, on West Poplar Street, needs a sprinkler system. The Lamar Redevelopment Authority approved $20,000 from the budget for the installment of the system. The city also assisted with a $6,000 water line connection. Factors which contributed to the approval, according to Mayor Roger Stagner, was the fact that the owner is investing some of his own capital in the venture, it does not compete with any other local business and it has the potential for future expansion. A development agreement will be drawn up for both parties prior to the awarding of the request.
By Russ Baldwin
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