JSU’s business research center offers to analyze retail opportunities in Piedmont
by Laura Gaddy
Feb 18, 2014 | 3589 views |  0 comments | 84 84 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIEDMONT — Representatives from Jacksonville State University on Tuesday offered to conduct an analysis of Piedmont’s retail sector — information they say could help city leaders know what businesses to attract and how to attract them.

Three employees from JSU’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research attended the City Council’s meeting, at which they presented a seven-page proposal for the market analysis.

"Our goals and objectives are to help the areas around us," said Jennifer Swafford, program coordinator for the center. "You know your city. Outside entities like chain restaurants and hotels, don't know your city."

The result of the analysis would be a report for city leaders on the types of retail businesses needed in Piedmont and the types of retail businesses Piedmont has too many of.

Mayor Bill Baker said the city can produce a limited amount of information about its economic strengths and weaknesses to companies now. But, he said, the center’s analysis would provide a broader view of what types of companies Piedmont needs and what the city has to offer them.

"We have some things that we can do, but I think what they can do is probably more broad," Baker said.

Baker said the new data would include a condensed version of the information to share with prospective companies.

Before the university will conduct the study, the council must agree to pay a $7,500 fee for the service. Although no date was specified as to when the study would begin, it’s a commitment several council members seemed willing to make.

“From what I saw, I would be all for it,” said Councilman Mark Harper.

Harper also said he would like the council to be ready to vote on the matter at its next meeting.

In other business:

— A representative from AirEvac, a helicopter ambulance service, asked the city to enter into an annual contract for about $29,000 for air ambulance services. The council said it will vote on the request at a later meeting, without specifying a date.

— The city agreed to renew a $250,000 line of credit with Farmers and Merchants Bank.

— Made public nuisance declarations at 645 Fifth Ave., 407 Anniston Ave., 469 Dailey St.and 606 Ray Ave.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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