Apache Junction hires consulting firm to help attract new businesses

Representatives from the city of Apache Junction are hoping to attract more casual dining, entertainment and apparel businesses to the community by using data provided by a consulting firm that identifies retailers best suited to meet the city’s needs.

According to Janine Solley, Apache Junction’s principal economic development specialist, city staff and officials are eagerly awaiting a list of the top 20 companies that will work well in Apache Junction, Ms. Solley said during an interview Aug. 19. The list is being compiled by consulting firm Buxton, she said, adding she expected to receive the information sometime in September.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Buxton is a customer analytics firm that advises communities on retail recruitment and business expansion strategies, Courtney Hall, the company’s director of marketing, said in an e-mailed response to a question. Members of the Apache Junction City Council at their June 17 meeting approved a professional services agreement between the city and Buxton for a retail expansion, recruitment and visitor impact analysis, according to the meeting’s minutes, which can be found online.

The cost for Buxton’s services will not exceed $60,000 for the first year of a three-year term and will not exceed $50,000 in the second and third years of the term, according to the meeting minutes.

The scope of services being provided by Buxton to the city include a community and visitor profile that is part of a retail recruitment and retention report, research about the community and a map defining Apache Junction’s trade area; the latter defines the area in which customers shop based on time, not mileage, according to the council information packet from the June 17 meeting, which can be found online.

The services also include a profile of the spending and lifestyle habits of Apache Junction residents and visitors, a marketing package, and an analysis of the city’s retail leakage and supply, according to the documents. Retail leakage refers to the dollars being spent outside the city’s trade area; supply, or surplus money, refers to the amount of dollars coming in from outside the trade area, according to the documents.

The materials used by the economic development department to market the city are more than two years old and in need of updating, Ms. Solley said. The new materials being compiled by Buxton will feature those amenities and demographics that could attract new businesses to locate in Apache Junction, she said.

The key information in the marketing materials can be personalized to an individual business’s requirements, Eric Brown, an account executive for Buxton, said during a phone interview Aug. 27.

His company’s goal is to help Apache Junction representatives understand where the opportunities are, especially in retail, to bring tax revenue to the city and retain existing businesses, Mr. Brown said.
Clients have access to Buxton’s Scout platform of databases, a website that allows users to analyze a trade area, pull demographic reports and review commercial activity in other markets, he said. One report enables business owners to analyze the buying habits of residents and visitors in Apache Junction to determine the types of merchandise they should be stocking on their shelves, Mr. Brown said.

Buxton draws the information from a database of 130 million household records, such as credit card receipts and Internet usage, he said.

“We use the information to paint a picture of who a household might be and we’re then able to match that profile against a database of more than 5,000 retailers to find an objective list of who will be the best fit for the Apache Junction profile,” Mr. Brown said. “At the beginning, our goals were casual dining, entertainment and apparel, as the city requested,” but the final list may include businesses in other areas if they are better suited to the Apache Junction profile, he said.

That type of information also could be used by local business people to help identify a buyer for their company, Mr. Brown said.

During Ms. Solley’s interview, she mentioned real estate broker Dzintars Grauds is having problems finding a business to locate in an empty commercial building in Apache Junction. Mr. Grauds would welcome marketing tools to help promote his local client, he said during a phone interview Aug. 25.

Mr. Grauds is a broker for MCO Realty who represents the owners of a 5,000-square-foot building on West Apache Trail at Delaware that once housed a furniture store. He acquired the listing a couple months ago, he said, and is having trouble finding a good match for the site.

“We want to bring something beneficial for the community,” he said.

He said he has had some inquiries for a social services office and a pawn shop but would prefer to go in the direction of a franchise restaurant. He has approached representatives from Wendy’s, Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A fast-food chains but has not heard back from any of them.

“If the city has a marketing packet I could pass on, I could find the right person in the company’s real estate division to give it to,” he said.

Mr. Brown said he is also tasked by the city of Apache Junction with two other goals. The first is to create a visitor analysis. Buxton has a partnership with a credit card company that allows it to identify the types of purchases by made by people from across the U.S. who have visited Apache Junction and spent money in the community, he said.

The visitor profile analyzes all VISA credit card expenditures during a 12-month period where the cardholder’s originating address is outside Apache Junction’s drive-time trade area, according to the professional services agreement in the meeting minutes. Expenditures are consolidated at the ZIP+4 level so as to de-identify individual cardholder information while providing an accurate consumer profile, according to the agreement.

The second is to create a hotel feasibility study and identify which hotels would be the best match for the community, he said.

Ms. Solley said she hopes to use the information to build on the momentum the city has experienced over the past year with the arrival of new businesses as well as facelifts to existing businesses, she said. Both bolster consumer confidence and tend to attract additional businesses, she said.

Among the new businesses are Planet Fitness, a 20,000-square-foot health club that opened at 3003 W. Apache Trail No. 1; Sun Life Family Health Center, a health care provider offering pediatric and OB/GYN services at 2080 W. Southern Ave. Suite B10; Western Bar-B-Q, a dine-in restaurant that can serve 60-80 people at 300 W. Apache Trail No. 116; Cowboys Up, an upscale, western-themed steakhouse at 285 N. Apache Trail; Banner Children’s Health Clinic, 1075 S. Idaho Road Suite 206; First Auto and Marine, a used vehicle business at 2162 W. Apache Trail; Obies Trains, a model train store at 2114 W. Apache Trail No. 11; and Canyon Carpet and Flooring, 1678 W. Superstition Blvd.; and the reopening of the Food Store (formerly the Orange Food Store) at 420 N. Apache Trail, Ms. Solley said. In addition, a Circle K convenience store is opening on West Apache Trail at Ironwood Road, she said.

A number of local businesses have expanded or been remodeled over the past year. They include Burger King, which underwent a complete facelift of its building and upgrades to its interior at 530 W. Apache Trail; Parkway Professional Plaza, which remodeled the exteriors of its buildings on the northwest corner of West Apache Trail and Idaho Road; Handlebar Pub and Grill, which added a dining patio to its restaurant at 650 W. Apache Trail; and Valero, 1000 E. Old West Highway, which added a dining room and new hot food offerings, Ms. Solley said.

In addition, businesses such as the Good Apple, 100 N. Plaza Drive, and Empowerment Systems Inc., 2066 W. Apache Trail, have taken advantage of the city’s commercial rehab program, Ms. Solley said. The program uses Commercial Development Block Grant money to fund improvements to businesses.

Ms. Solley said she is looking forward to having the updated materials to attract new businesses to the community.

“The better we can tell our story, the better we can reach out and let them know we’re here,” she said.

For more information about the city’s economics development department, visit its website or call Ms. Solley at 480-474-5076.

Source:  http://arizona.newszap.com/eastvalley/134634-114/apache-junction-hires-consulting-firm-to-help-attract-new-businesses

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