Andalusia’s story gets developers’ attention

Published 12:50 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Recent growth and investment is helping local officials get at least a first and sometimes a second look from retail developers.

Andalusia City Clerk John Thompson and Director of Planning and Development reported to the Andalusia City Council on their recent trip to a retail trade show. The event is designed to connect communities with retail developers and site selectors.

“What we are learning is that 2017 was the bottom of the brick and mortar reorganization,” Thompson said. “Brick and mortar alive and well and expanding, based on the numbers at that show.”

Thompson said Andalusia’s data was well received.

“One thing you’re asked to do is show growth,” he said. “We are able to document sales tax receipts since 2000. Even if you back out the sales tax increase we had, we’ve had a more than 65 percent increase in sales tax collections in that time.”

Thompson said developers are interested in what the city has done to attract revenue, and recent development on the west bypass.

“We are getting to be an easier sale,” he said.

Based on recent retail studies that capture the data of people who shop here, there are 150,000 people in the retail trade market, Thompson said.

“They don’t think anything about driving 30 to 45 minutes to shop,” he said. “As demonstrated in the information collected, we have a billion and a half dollar leakage into the bigger economies around us.”

Thompson said he and Wiggins are trying to connect with retailers who would not have a direct competitor here.

“Retail growth is important to our economy,” he said. “We have a nice body of work to show, with all of the recent investments in our community, including a quarter billion dollar investment at Shaw. We have a nice presentation to show these people, and we are on their maps. We will keep on the door, reminding them we are here”.

Mayor Earl Johnson said referenced the recent announcement that Jack’s will locate where Kentucky Fried Chicken once was.

“We have two or three more businesses in the queue,” Johnson said. “For all practical purposes, they are done deals.”

The council’s only action items on Tuesday were:

  • the purchase of three police vehicles. Including equipment, the purchases will total $133,600.
  • the purchase of a skid steer for the public works department’s use at the landfill.
  • the approval of weed abatements on Henderson, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and King streets, Sanford Road and Hand Avenue.