LOCKPORT – The city of Lockport wants new business and is looking for new ways to attract stores and restaurants to town.
Enter the Retail Coach, a Mississippi-based company that provides retail consulting and market research to local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. City officials hired the consultant in early April to prepare plans for retail economic development.
It’s one of the many initiatives city officials have taken this year to increase Lockport’s profile in the Chicago region. Lockport is spending $40,000 – in three installments – for the many services the company plans to provide.
Since the first week of May, which is the beginning of the city’s partnership with the company, the Retail Coach has helped market the city to potential retailers, defined the city’s “retail trade area” to assess its strengths and completed a gap analysis to know its retail needs.
The Retail Coach staff analyzed the city’s retail trade area as consisting of three markets: downtown Lockport, the Ninth Street corridor that connects downtown to the region and everything west of Farrell Road, said Pamela Hirth, the city’s community and economic development director.
“Now they’re going to look in the individual markets and determine where people are coming from, how many and what kind of spending power or household income they have,” she said.
Lockport’s retail trade area doesn’t just include the city itself but neighboring communities where people shop, such as Lemont, New Lenox, Homer Glen and Romeoville, she said.
The Retail Coach staff also completed a gap analysis to determine how people spend their money and where Lockport falls short in the retail trade areas.
“It’s helpful when certain retailers are looking at a community and they can see, ‘Oh, there is a real need for this here,’” Hirth said about the gap analysis.
Lockport has some gaps, such as home improvement, electronic and apparel stores, she said. They also have gaps in fine sit-down restaurants.
Retail Coach is getting to know Lockport. Hirth provided the Retail Coach staff with a list of business owners and real estate brokers. She said they’ve had several meetings with key stakeholders in the area.
The consultant plans to spend time in neighboring communities to asses what retail needs they fulfill compared to Lockport.
Hirth said in May the company’s staff went to the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas, where they met with several companies and provided them marketing materials on potential locations in Lockport.