Consultant briefs committee on economic development

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Consultant Aaron Arnett briefs the Economic Development Study Committee in the police training room. STEFAN ROGENMOSER/GAZETTE

Can new strategies attract more businesses to Goose Creek?
Aaron Arnett, a city-planning consultant from the upstate, will advise Goose Creek leaders on economic development. Goose Creek City Council passed a motion at a special July 25 meeting to hire Arnett on a $37,000 contract.
Arnett made a presentation to the city’s Economic Development Study Committee on July 12.
Arnett, of the Greenville-based Arnett Muldrow and Associates, gave about an hour-long presentation to the committee. He showed services his firm can provide, such as community branding, marketing and city planning.
“What is our visitor base?” Arnett asked. “We’ll work with local businesses to track consumer patterns over a snapshot of time.”
He said he would measure consumer patterns over the course of a week by working with local businesses. He said he would track customer zip codes, the smallest geography for which information can be measured.
Arnett said his firm is small and he will be in Goose Creek gathering much of the information himself. Goose Creek is within an urban metropolitan center, he said.
“We figure out exactly where those market areas land,” he said. “We identify those primary and secondary trade areas, especially from retail and commercial sections. We talk to individual businesses to see what the challenges are working within that community.
“Engagement is important to get involved. The biggest thing we do is retail. If consumers are spending more than businesses are taking in, then there’s leakage. That translates into consumer demand, real demand.
“Based on existing demand you could deal with 20,000 – 30,000 more square feet of restaurants, from fast food to full service.”
Arnett said his firm has worked with cities such as Marion and Newberry.
“You still have residential growth,” he said. “Most of the places we work with have no residential growth.
“How do we tap into the robust visitor market near the coast? What is the image we need to project?”
Arnett said cities need separate logos and identities for marketing and city government. A city may make unpopular decisions like tax increases that need not be confused with “the destination.”
He compared this to Clemson University and the University of South Carolina having different academic and athletic logos. This ensures the school’s athletic performances won’t affect enrollment.
Committee member Mark Phillips asked about the duration of the process.
Arnett said it would take about six to nine months for the planning process and about six to eight weeks for the branding process.

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