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Firm readies Hartselle for Vegas

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Representatives with a customer analytical firm said Hartselle should continue to go to the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

City leaders shouldn't expect to return with a "truckload" of business, a Buxton spokesman told Hartselle during an online conference.

Buxton, a Texas-based company that Hartselle is paying $63,000 to develop a marketing analysis plan, said the Las Vegas trip is about networking with developers.

Hartselle had representatives at the conference for the first time last year. Mayor Dwight Tankersley said he plans to attend the conference again in May.

Tankersley met with representatives from Wendy's and Arby's in 2005, but so far, neither restaurant has announced plans to locate in Hartselle.

City leaders said the conference with Buxton was encouraging and informative.

"We're doing a lot of the things they said we should be doing," Hartselle Development Board Chairman Bob Francis said.

But there were some sobering moments for city leaders during the conference.

Hartselle, for example, has been of the opinion that growing its population through annexation would help recruit businesses.

That's not necessarily true, Buxton warned.

The company said drive time to commercial sites and the number of customers in that specific area is important. Demographics, Buxton said, could take in rural areas not in the corporate limits.

Tankersley said Buxton will provide the kind of information Hartselle needs to more effectively recruit retailers.

The mayor said he has met with Buxton territory business manager Chas Stoker. He said he most likely will sign the contract with the company next week.

Buxton said it will take about three months to provide Hartselle with a plan that identifies what restaurants and retail shops are best for the city.

The company, which has the largest consumer spending database in the country, is going to give the council information that tells where people in the Hartselle area are eating, shopping and playing.

Buxton will match consumer habits with the profiles of national retailers and supply the list to Hartselle.

Tankersley said he plans to take Buxton's information to Las Vegas in May and target companies that best suit Hartselle.

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