Trade show trips paying dividends, city says

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 2, 2003

[06/02/03] Vicksburg officials say that trips to trade shows have paid off for the community with promises from at least five new retailers for the city.

Mayor Laurence Leyens, who returned last week from a trade show in Las Vegas, said the city needs to do more and should consider spending about $50,000 for a retail trade analysis.

The city has made no commitment to spend the money for the study, but is inviting representatives of the Buxton Company, a market research group out of Fort Worth, Texas, to come to Vicksburg for a public presentation to pitch their product.

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The company boosts big name clients including Pier 1 Imports, Garden Ridge, Schlotzsky’s Deli and Kinkos. Leyens said a study through the Buxton Company could help the city attract retailers such as those to the community.

At the trade shows, retailers meet with manufacturers’ representatives and with developers pitching locations. “A lot of them won’t even talk to you unless you have that study,” Leyens said.

Along with city officials, representatives of the Economic Development Foundation, Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance have attended trade shows in Atlanta, New Orleans, Orlando and Las Vegas. The six trips cost the city a total of about $7,000.

Leyens said that a big payoff from the trips may not be felt for five to 10 years because that’s how far ahead retailers plan.

“We’ve made substantial relationships with developers, and we’ve put Vicksburg in the minds of the retailers,” Leyens said.

He said bringing more retail businesses to Vicksburg would increase the city’s tax base and improve quality of life, but he would not say what five companies have committed to coming.

“This town has absolutely put all of its eggs into industry, and that provides jobs…., but I’m tired of having to go to Jackson to get my goods and services,” Leyens said. “We should quit being a suburban neighborhood for Jackson’s economy.”

Leyens pointed to the new The Home Depot store as an example of how the city’s efforts to recruit retail business has been successful.

“I think we’re going to learn a lesson with The Home Depot. It’s not going to be this monster that eats up smaller, local stores. It’s going to encourage consumption,” Leyens said.

Future developments are planned both to the east and west of The Home Depot off South Frontage Road.

Leyens said a retail trade analysis like the one proposed by the Buxton Company would give the city the tools to target retailers with information about Vicksburg’s consumer base.