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National firm to recruit new retail to Fountain

 

Last updated 9/13/2022 at 3:34pm | View PDF

Karin Hill

Madison Neal (from left) and Christopher Bontrager of Retail Strategies discuss commercial growth in Fountain with the city's Economic Development Director, Kimberly Bailey, during their Sept. 7 site visit.

The city of Fountain has enlisted the help of a national firm to develop a retail recruitment plan.

Last week, representatives from Retail Strategies visited Fountain to assess the city's existing commercial footprint and get to work on creating future strategies.

"Fountain will be taking advantage of the growth and development happening in and around the city by focusing on expanding their retail corridor, "said Christopher Bontrager, vice president of the western region for Retail Strategies. "Our team is excited to get started working in Fountain again; our mutual history gives us a jumpstart on site selection development, as well as a city COVID resiliency plan for the community."

Fountain selected Retail Strategies, the leading national community development firm, after positive experiences with the company in years past. Under a 2017 contract, Retail Strategies helped recruit the following businesses: Black Bear Diner, T Mobile, Freddy's, Holiday Inn, Jimmy Johns, Dollar Tree, O'Reilly, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Mod Pizza.

Through the partnership, the city will receive a tailored retail recruitment plan based on in-depth market analysis, consumer data, a real estate assessment, and proactive retail and broker outreach by the Retail Strategies team. The partnership will allow them to leverage the Retail Strategies real estate network.

"We have seen sustained growth in our community located along the Front Range in Colorado," said Kimberly Bailey, the city's director of the economic development and urban renewal for the city. "We are excited to capitalize on our growth with Retail Strategies, leveraging their data and network to bring new development opportunities. Attracting new retail and service-related options to Fountain will create an enhanced quality of life for our residents through added jobs and tax revenues, as part of City Council's Strategic Plan for the community."

It's not yet certain what specific types of businesses will be targeted, as that's all part of the study.

"Upon completion of the boots-on-the-ground tour and market analysis, along with the city's vision and goals, those things will determine the types of retail that Retail Strategies will work to attract to Fountain," said Courtney Hall, chief marketing officer for Retail Strategies. "The first 90 days of the partnership are what we call the Discover Phase that includes pulling data and analyzing the community and the market visit. Once that is complete, we'll deliver the Retail Recruitment Plan to the city. That will happen sometime this fall. Our in-market visit is the week after Labor Day."

Fountain, the second-largest city in El Paso County, reached a population of 32,352 in the 2020 United States Census. It has experienced double-digit growth at a 15.31-percent increase since 2010. Fountain serves as the "commercial spine" as a source of goods and lifestyle services to the greater Fountain Valley, serving a much broader 103,539 population. In addition, the military is a major component of the community, with Fort Carson Army installation as the largest employer in the city/region/state, representing a base installation 32,041 population along its city boundary.

Retail Strategies is the national expert in recruiting businesses and strategically developing communities. The firm's mission is to provide the real estate expertise, tools, and human effort that position deserving towns as alluring locations for national businesses and destinations for tourism and quality of life amenities.

The current contract is a two-year scope of work commitment with an optional third year extension allowance, Bailey said. The contract services cost is $40,000 per year, which does include a $15,000 customer discount by Retail Strategies.

Karin Hill

This vacant lot at 121 E. Ohio Ave. near Fountain City Hall is one of just a few infill lots in the area that could accommodate retail uses. The national firm Retail Strategies will create a comprehensive list of available properties and develop a plan to recruit new retail to various parts of Fountain.

Representatives say their activities pay a return in sales taxes, added jobs, and businesses that enhance and add to the unique qualities of the community.

The city had considered retaining Retail Strategies for another round earlier, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey said.

"We've kept in touch during the economic disruptions of COVID to assess timing to re-engage with another update," she said. "The timing was justified for 2022, due to suburban markets remaining hot attraction for retailers' plans of expansion as coming out of COVID and the D12 Strategic Objective on Retailer Expansion as directed by City Council."

One of the benefits of having Retail Strategies involved, Bailey said, is an added personal touch that sometimes is difficult when staff resources are thin. Bailey is the city's only full-time employee working on economic development, among other things.

For more information about the city's Economic Development efforts, visit fountaincolorado.org.

 

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