EDC renews contract with Retail Coach

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation (EDC) signed on for another year with the Retail Coach.

At its April 12 meeting, the EDC voted unanimously to fund an annual contract for services for $22,500 with the company.

For EDC Director Lance Dean, the partnership offers great advantages for Liberty Hill’s recruitment efforts.

“This is a force multiplier for us,” he said. “The EDC in general has a multitude of different roles in community development and also economic development, looking internally and externally. The Retail Coach is helping to supplement that external attraction to the community. There are only so many hours of the day and so many different places I can split my time and focus so having someone as an additional resource helps in getting that word out.”

The initial contract, signed in early 2017, included detailed demographics and data on retailers and retail revenues lost to the area. Retail Coach also assisted the EDC with site plan preparation for properties in the area, represented the city at trade shows and served as a point of reference for Dean.

“We worked with them this past year in recruitment on the retail side,” he said. “They also helped us prepare our demographics for the city, it was the first time we ever had that information available to us.”

Dean pointed to the upcoming opening of Dairy Queen as an example of how the investment in Retail Coach paid dividends for the city. While Retail Coach did not specifically bring Dairy Queen to town, their assistance helped that process run smoothly and quickly, he said.

The original annual contract for services was $30,000.

In a report to the EDC Board in May 2017, Aaron Farmer with Retail Coach said an estimated $775 million is leaving the Liberty Hill retail area annually as a result of untapped or under-tapped markets. He estimated 34,000 people reside within the area’s commercial reach, which extends beyond the city limits and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

All of the demographic data compiled for the city is available on the EDC website.

Investing in reading

The EDC voted unanimously to support the Liberty Hill Public Library Summer Reading Program with a $2,500 donation.

“This is our biggest time of the year and I think the most important thing we do because it helps the kids prepare through the summer for the next year,” said Librarian Angela Palmer. “(Research) shows that kids who read during the summer lose less of the educational gains they made the previous year.”

Palmer said 1,435 children and 650 teens and adults participated last year. The overall cost was $16,000 and this year the budget is about $14,000. During last summer, participants fell just 30,000 minutes short of totaling one million, so Palmer said this year’s goal is to reach one million total.

“This program, when you watch it, when you see it, it’s one that I can tell you as a patron of Liberty Hill, it makes you very proud,” said EDC board member John Clark. “You go watch the kids and you see they are excited. I think it is a tremendous plus for our city.”

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