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Washington, Electricities partner with economic development firm

A new partnership between the City of Washington, Electricities of North Carolina and Retail Strategies, LLC could help the city attract new retailers, hotels and restaurants to the area.

According to Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell, the city council will meet with representatives from Retail Strategies to provide direction on where the consultant should focus its efforts, be it adaptive reuse of existing buildings or new construction. That includes which areas of the city to focus on, and public input on what types of businesses would work well in Washington.

Lacy Beasley, of Retail Strategies, explained the process further during the council’s Monday meeting.

“We start with a survey that we provide to the city, and we suggest that you share that with key stakeholders in the community,” Beasley said. “We use a very deep dive of research and analysis to help you determine the strategy for moving forward, including the categories of goods and service where you have retail leakage. We look at you compared to other peer communities of similar size and makeup and develop a retail prospect list based on that.”

The total cost to retain Retail Strategies for three years stands at $90,000, which will be split evenly between Electicities and the city. While Electicities stands to benefit from increased electricity sales, the city could potentially see a bump in its tax base, as well as additional commercial activity.

“I think they would focus on a few key areas,” Russell told council members. “But one benefit they would provide is that they would provide a comprehensive approach to all economic development, city wide.”

“This is a great opportunity to show our citizens that we are listening to them and that we’re going to make every effort to bring retail stores and restaurants to our area,” said Washington Mayor Donald Sadler. “It is greatly needed.”

Council members approved the agreement unanimously. In an interview after the meeting, Russell said that he sees the partnership as having potential to benefit the city in a number of ways.

“I think it provides a comprehensive economic development view citywide that will be a force multiplier for our staff,” Russell said. “We can use some of the information they give us to reach out to developers.. … We’re excited to work with them to look at adaptive reuse on some properties, to backfill some of the vacancies we have and potentially foster new development within the community.”

To learn more about Retail Strategies, and the services it provides, visit www.retailstrategies.com.

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