sonolito bronson, edd, zion , il headshot

Sonolito Bronson

Economic Development Coordinator
Zion, IL

Retail Strategies

Located between Chicago and Milwaukee, our community of 25,000 residents and 10 square miles sought assistance from retail strategies to attract retailers. Over the course of nine years, retail strategies invested time and effort in understanding our community, establishing relationships, and gathering data, resulting in the successful attraction of five projects with more expected in the next three years. Their expertise, relationships, and dedicated support have proven invaluable as they act as our economic development arm, complementing my role as the one-person office responsible for multiple tasks in City Hall. The partnership has been a game-changer, and even with a seemingly perfect product, retail strategies continuously strive for improvement, making them an exceptional and appreciated team.

TRANSCRIPT

We are located about 40 miles north of Chicago and about 14 miles south of Milwaukee. I have been working with retail strategies for going on nine years. When I was introduced to retail strategies, our community was looking for a partner to help us execute the search for retailers in our community, we have about 25,000 residents. And we are about 10 square miles. And so finding someone to help us attract retail within our community was the number one goal that we needed, and retail strategies helped us do that. So the first three years, it was pretty much just like data gathering, they really took the time to know my community, not just where this parcel is, but they really took time to know the community members, the property owners, they did the boots on the ground, we introduced them to some of our key stakeholders. And they really, really took the time to know who we are as a community. And that took about three years. And year four, we started to really get some good feedback from retailers that were interested in our community, but it wasn’t the right time in terms of the retailer’s timeframe. But we still had these connections made. By year five, it was literally like an explosion, where there were retailers that wanted to be in our community, they wanted to know more about us, we started getting more telephone calls out of the blue, of, hey, you know, do you have any demographic information that I can have? Or Who can I talk to about this particular property. We are now in year nine. And we currently have five projects that have been total successes in our community right now. And we’re looking forward to hopefully getting four more on board in the next three years.

I think of retail strategies has my economic development arm, I’m an office of one person, in my community, not only am I the Economic Development Coordinator, but I’m also the zoning administrator, I am the business license coordinator, I wear the hat of administrative assistant to the mayor, administrative assistant to the administrator. So there are all these different directions that I’m being pulled in by, by my job working in City Hall. What retail strategies bring they’re so valuable is that they have the expertise and the time and the relationships, to really talk to the retailers really spend time developing those relationships. That is something that I can’t do in my capacity, just because of the other responsibilities that I have. Being a partner with retail strategies is probably the best thing that we’ve ever done. Because I literally have a team that’s behind me that’s knocking on doors that’s answering emails, us making phone calls that’s really, really promoting my community. And the results of that are immeasurable. Because without them, there’s no way I could have had the success.

The advisory council was an amazing experience, sitting in the room with other key decision makers, not just in the municipal sector, but from development from marketing from the retailer side was just a great experience, being able to share some of our thoughts of retail strategies and the services that they provide now and being asked, how can they improve. It just felt like such a foreign thing because I think they have a perfect product now. But it was just so humbling. I really thought that you know, they had the wrong person sitting at the table. But between Lacey and Robert and Mead and the rest of the team that’s there. It just goes to show that they’re always finding ways to improve and they’re not afraid to, you know, rip off the band-aid you know, make themselves vulnerable and ask what can we do to be better and I still appreciate that

kate hogan

Kate Hogan

Community and Economic Development Director, Warner Robins, Georgia