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Retail Recruitment Update to City Council and County Commission

The following story appeared on The Daily Reflector Website: (below the animal discussions) 

Retail growth

In December the city and county, in partnership with Uptown Greenville and with a grant from ElectriCities, entered into a three-year contract with Alabama-based Retail Strategies to undertake a study of the community's retail market and a recruitment stragety which a focus on bringing more retail business to areas north of the Tar River and to downtown Greenville. The consultants also would recruit businesses and developers to the community.

Retail Strategies wrapped up its study in June, said Roger Johnson, Greenville's economic development manager. The company recommends focusing on health and wellness companies, with an emphasis on building a pharmacy in northern Pitt County. There also is a need for speciality grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s and restaurants, said Christian Lockamy, Greenville's economic development research manager.

Lockamy said recommending the recruitment of more restaurants may be surprising, but as retail stores decline, the restaurant industry is growing at a rate of 40 percent.

The consultants’ study found that on a monthly basis, 692,383 people shop in Greenville and Pitt County, coming from as far east at Edenton and as far west from Interstate 95. The median household income of these shoppers is $40,474 annually.

On a weekly basis, 236,884 people shop locally and are mainly from Pitt and the counties iimmediately east of it. The median household income of this group is $42,120.

"We have a very large retail footprint," Lockamy said.

However, Greenville loses approximately $25 million annual to people shopping in Raleigh and Charlotte. That’s because Greenville lacks speciality stores, lawn and garden retailers and furniture retailers, he said.

Another weakness is the area’s median income, Lockamy said. While it is in the low $40,000s, retailers such as Trader Joe's, DSW and PF Chang’s want median household incomes ranging between $50,000 and $75,000, he said.

Bringing in more retail business will benefit Greenville and Pitt County, Lockamy said.

A chain restruant typically has a tax value of $1 million, bringing in $12,000 in combined city and county property tax revenue and $56,250 in sales tax. A big box retailer with a tax value of $5 million would generate $60 million in combined property tax and more than $146,000 in sales tax.

Retail Strategies already has contacted 65 retailers and project developers, Lockamy said. That work will continue along with developing marketing materials pinpointing specific businesses.

Johnson said there has already been interest expressed in opening a pharamcy north of the river, although he couldn't release details.

Smith asked if the airport is identified as a development area. Lockamy said no, but would ask for its inclusion.

Commissioner Jimmy Garris asked why Wal-Mart never opened at a location off U.S. 264 Bypass near Belvoir Highwa.

Johnson said he could not a written response from Wal-Mart about the reason. Lockamy said city staff was told the project was shelved because construction costs were too high.

Lipscombe said city staff has heard the project could go out to bid in 2019.