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The City of Minot has taken another step toward creating new retail opportunities in the community.
The City Council agreed to a one-year contract with The Retail Coach, with the potential for two additional contract years. The Retail Coach focuses on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a community’s retail business community, with the goal of recruiting new retailers and assisting already existing businesses.
“We sat down with our economic development partners and discussed what gaps we have, and retail recruitment was identified as an opportunity,” City Manager Harold Stewart said. “So the City is filling that gap by taking the leadership role on this project to improve the overall quality of life in our community.”
What can we expect from The Retail Coach in the first year? Stewart said the company’s initial efforts will focus on three areas.
“First, they’ll l do a lot of data analysis to create a foundation for future work, including building a dashboard of data so our local businesses and external businesses looking at Minot for opportunities have it readily available to them,” Stewart said.
Second, a database of available commercial properties in Minot will be created. Third, The Retail Coach will reach out to businesses whose business plans match what’s available in Minot – and that work has already begun, Stewart said.
“Representatives from Retail Coach are attending a conference this week to represent Minot, so the efforts to spread Minot’s story are already taking place,” he said.
Collecting and analyzing data will be critical to all facets of the efforts, according to Jonathan Rosenthal, economic development administrator for the City of Minot.
“The data will give us greater detail on where we’re attracting customers from and what they’re buying when they’re here,” he said. “It will help us establish our market from a geographic sense, and then we can work to attract new stores that make sense for our market and stores that customers are looking for when they visit Minot.”
The Retail Coach will also help Minot build relationships with developers and others in the national business community.
“What you begin to do is put yourself on the map, and that can lead to new relationships with developers and other end users that ultimately could choose Minot as home to one of their franchises,” Rosenthal added.
The data will help Minot recruit new retail businesses, potentially including clothing stores, restaurants, sporting goods, shoe stores, or grocery stores. It will also assist Minot in identifying any gaps in our retail community. If the data shows residents shopping elsewhere for men’s clothing, for example, the City can work to recruit a men’s clothing retailer to our community.
“We could provide data to show there’s a gap in that business demographic, and we can help provide them with information to show there’s an opportunity for them to succeed in Minot,” Stewart said. “We can also provide potential retailers with a list of available commercial space to help facilitate and expedite the process for them should they choose Minot.”
The efforts will encompass all of Minot’s business community, Rosenthal said.
“We want to serve the entire city, with a focus on general retail,” he said. “This isn’t designed to focus only on downtown, although that’s certainly one of the elements in the overall strategy.”
The growth of a city’s business community has a positive effect on the entire community, providing employment and investment opportunities as well as expanding the tax base.
“We want to continue to grow our sales tax revenue to create a stronger retail environment and minimize the leakage of residents who spend money outside of Minot,” Stewart said. “We want to draw more people into Minot to create a stronger community. Those additional sales tax dollars help fund infrastructure, public safety, and many other elements of our community.”