Corinth, Mississippi hires restaurant, retail recruiter
BY JEBB JOHNSTON
City leaders are enlisting some help with satisfying the appetite for new restaurant and retail offerings in Corinth.
Last week, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to enter a contract with Retail Strategies, an economic development consulting firm that helps communities recruit national retailers and restaurants. Mayor Ralph Dance said the consultant will work closely with both the city and The Alliance in recruiting prospects.
During a presentation to the board in July, a representative of Retail Strategies, Jenn Gregory, told the board they have recruited about 25 businesses for Starkville since 2016, creating hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue.
The Alliance President Clayton Stanley said the city has a need for additional restaurants, particularly of the seated service variety and in the class of national brands like Chili’s, Applebee’s and Olive Garden.
There is a sense that now is a good time to try to lure in more dining options.
“Chick-fil-A and Starbucks showed national franchises that Corinth is a place they want to be,” said Stanley, “much in the same way that Hobby Lobby showed some other retailers seven or eight years ago.”
While the economic argument for locating in Corinth has been solidified, he said the real estate and construction deals are complicated.
“It’s no longer about selling them on whether or not Corinth is a place they want to be – it’s selling them on we can help you get this deal done quickly and get you open and operating,” said Stanley.
He sees that as an area where the consulting firm, which touts its real estate expertise, can be a big help.
“The complicating part for us is available land that is for sale at a reasonable price and a location where a restaurant or retailer wants to be,” said Stanley.
The Alliance previously worked with Retail Strategies in 2020 in an opportunity made available through the Mississippi Development Authority. The consultant’s market study at that time found the Corinth trade area to encompass 92,000 people who visit the city weekly to shop for groceries and general merchandise. They also identified $14 million in restaurant needs not being met.
For retail recruitment, Stanley said the expertise of Retail Strategies will be helpful, given the dramatic changes in retail operations that began during the Covid era.
Retail Strategies will begin their work with a new market analysis, and Stanley is confident they will be a good partner.
“They do have the relationships to get in front of the decision makers at these national brands,” he said. “You pick any restaurant and odds are they have worked with that restaurant locating them in another town.”
The impact can be tremendous for the city’s bottom line.
“The city lives on sales tax collections, and that’s driven by retail and restaurants,” said Stanley. “Any new restaurant is a big benefit to the city and residents not only from just options, but also tax revenue.”
Retail Strategies says it has worked with more than 800 communities, often in rural areas.