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Small Town Retail Economic Development

Small town retail economic development is concerned with growing an area, such as a town, within the constraints imposed by the demographics and infrastructure of the area.  Although we cannot define items such as historical significance in concrete terms we can still accommodate the values imposed by rules and regulations which might alter otherwise viable proposals.  It is the specialty of this division of The Hooson Group to thoroughly examine each property available within a community as to its best use.  We also analyse proposed business types as to their suitability in the community as well as their statistical chances of long-range success.We do not guarantee success, but the chance of failure is reduced tremendously and the cost of trial and error goes to zero.

In 1979 there was a need for matching the various supplies of coal to the many diverse users throughout the world.  It was a fantastic matching game requiring the mixtures of coal from several different sources in order to meet the specifications of the users.  Personal computers were in their infancy, but the challenge of putting their capabilities to practical use could be very rewarding to the entrepreneurs who dared venture into this fascinating futuristic area.  Armed with several   “Commodore 64” computers, hitched up to some “IBM Electric Typewriters”, “The Coal Marketing Clearinghouse” was founded.

On the one hand a network of Coal Brokers would get orders from power plants and steel mills for coals with unique characteristics.  On the other hand many small coal mines, whose operators were looking for customers for their coal, were signed up.  Complex algorithms were devised  to help identify the quantity of a particular coal needed in a mix that would satisfy the customer’s needs.

The business went very well and in the 1980’s, when IBM made personal computers available, the business practically ran itself, and was sold to a multi-national energy company.

Today we are challenged by another area where those old mixture algorithms might be applied to great advantage.  The area is “Economic Development”.  Now, in 2008, there exists a veritable army of entrepreneurs; many falling into the category of “retail merchants”.  These retailers are on the lookout for markets for their products.  And, on the proverbial other hand, there are small cities and towns that are seeking retailers to help revitalize their economies.  These communities, for the most part, possess vacant buildings that are available at bargain rates.

We need a system that matches the one with the other.  Such a system would consist of a data base of business types versus available properties.  Sounds like a Real Estate agency?  There are some interesting similarities, and some overwhelming differences. The differences are in the type of data entered into the base.  So many dimensions are considered that when a match is made both parties to the match would be guaranteed an opportunity for success.

Such a system actually exists, and is in use in Eatonton, GA.   A great deal of thought has gone into the types of business that should be recruited for this community’s available retail space, and a great deal of energy and time has been spent into identifying potential occupants of this space.  At least 90% of the matches have not been made because of areas beyond the control of negotiation.  Such items as geographical location (don’t want to locate in Central Georgia, prefer the coast, or the North Georgia mountains) result in rejection for this application.

The result of these searches should not be a dead-end.  We are expanding our data base to include other communities within Georgia and invite the Better Hometown and Main Street programs to participate. We already have demographics for most cities and require only data on vacant buildings.  If interest develops in participation we would require a data base form to be entered with the significant information on each building available for tenancy.  The information would only be the building identification, square footage, rental/lease terms or sales $, and any restrictions of use.  We would act only as matchmaker; all negotiation will be between landlord and tenant, or seller and buyer.

On the other hand we are developing a data base of retailers who are interested in expanding, or moving their businesses to other locales.  The two data bases can be matched and the matches then can be further analyzed for compatibility.


  A sample of some of the more than 55 clients that we have worked with over the years include the:
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • City of Lowell, MA
  • City of Tridephia, WV
  • Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes
  • Browning-Ferris
  • Atlanta Gas Light Company
  • Entemann's Bakery

The Hooson Group * PO Box 1058 * Covington, GA * USA * 30015-1058 email: bill@hoosongroup.com Phone: 404.401.6857

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