with marketer would be costly
As anyone that has ever opened a restaurant,
a hotel or apartment complex can readily attest, in
the world of marketing, the phrase "if you build
it, they will come" probably ranks among the worst
pieces of advice you can receive.
City planners probably don't think much
of the phrase either. Whitewashed windows and vacant
stores are not the usual measure of success for your
hometown. The question is probably better posed as "what
shall I build, and who will come if I build it."
As reported in last week's Landmark, Platte
City Mayor David Brooks and City Administrator Keith
Moody invited David Rambie, a marketing executive for
the Fort Worth, Texas based Buxton Company, to address
the Platte City Board of Aldermen on this matter.
Brooks has said that he wishes to build
a thriving retail sector in Platte City.
Retail is increasingly being seen as the
best route towards economic development in many cities
because unlike raising property taxes or building polluting
industrial complexes, retail provides relatively high
paying white collar jobs and sales tax revenues for
a city. Like many other cities, Platte City finds itself
in the position of having to market itself in order
to attract these businesses.
The Buxton Company, which sells a research
tool it calls CommunityID, claims to have the answer.
But it comes at a price. $60,000 to be
exact. And for a city that recently cut $2,500 from
the $10,000 budget of its own chamber of commerce in
August, that price may be too steep.
While Brooks and Moody have only gone
on record saying they thought it was important to listen
to independent marketing firms like the Buxton Company,
Karen Wagoner, executive director for the Platte Chamber
of Commerce isn't so sure they have the answers.
"It sounded interesting," Wagoner
conceded. "I really haven't had a chance to look
too deep into it. I dont know if the city intends
to pursue working with (the Buxton Group)."
Wagoner said the chamber also serves as an economic
development council and has formed retail development
and business retention teams in the last year.
"Our retail team has developed a
targeted list wed like to pursue and that we're
actively engaged in pursuing," Wagoner said. "We
feel it's a good target list but that doesnt mean
that (the Buxton Company) wouldnt help too."
Wagoner said she had questions regarding
the services an outside company may provide that the
Chamber of Commerce could not.
"I would like to know the depth of
their demographic information being that they're from
the Texas area," Wagoner said. "I would like
to know where theyre getting it from, and what
they have that we couldnt get."
According to Rambie, it's quite a lot.
"They (Chamber of Commerce) cant
do anything we can do, Rambie, the president of
the Buxton Company's CommunityID division said.
Most of the people that tend to
say look, we can do this ourselves have
to understand that weve been matching cities to
retailers for 10 years. If (the Platte City Chamber
of Commerce) wanted to do it, if they wanted to spend
millions of dollars on data, theyd have to replicate
the Buxton Group.
To do so, Rambie pointed out that the
chamber would need to accumulate and store more than
17 terabytes of data pertaining to retailers and market
areas (they use a 25,000 square foot research center
equipped with a fiber-optic cable network) and develop
a computer mapping system that utilizes advanced geo-spatial
problem solving techniques.
The Buxton Company boasts a client list
that includes Pier 1 Imports, Schlotzsky's Deli, New
Balance and adult arcade chain Dave and Buster's. According
to Rambie, his division has contracted with 40 cities,
the last being Round Lake, a 5,800 population village
in Illinois, to provide retail matching services.
City Administrator Keith Moody said the
city has an interest in working with the Buxton company,
but the city would like to partner with the county to
defray costs before working with them -- if at all.
"There's a cost associated with it,"
Moody said. "We think that sales tax revenues the
city would benefit from would also benefit the county,
so we see a chance to partner with the county."