By SHELLY WILKISON
A consulting firm hired by the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corp. to help recruit businesses to the community is pitching local opportunities to national retailers this month.
EDC Executive Director Lance Dean told members of the EDC Board last Thursday that he recently accompanied Aaron Farmer of The Retail Coach firm on a “ridealong” through Liberty Hill looking at commercial property along major roadways.
“We spent two and one-half hours going up and down (State Highway) 29, (RR) 1869, the Loop (332) and (US Hwy) 183, just checking out different properties that are available, those for sale currently, and those that are just open — not necessarily for sale, just vacant,” Dean said.
He later told The Independent that EDC Board member Eric Van Natter, a local real estate agent, had accompanied them, adding that Van Natter’s input was helpful as he knew owners of some properties not identified for sale, but who might be interested in selling.
Dean said Farmer was to attend the International Conference of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in Las Vegas where he had 43 meetings scheduled with national retailers. Along with his other clients, Farmer planned to “pitch” Liberty Hill.
“He wants to have an idea of potential sites available in Liberty Hill so that when he’s in these meetings with retail establishments, Liberty Hill could be one he pitches to them,” Dean said. “So the 43 meetings he has set up are not all for Liberty Hill, but he has some in particular he has in mind that he wants to bring up and highlight some properties we have.”
EDC President Bill Chapman further explained that ICSC is the major retail show held annually in Las Vegas.
“Everybody in commercial will be there that has any size to them. They make appointments with the Home Depots, CVS, Walgreens, Academy” and more, Chapman said.
Dean said he plans to attend the ICSC show in Dallas in November with Farmer at which time he hopes to meet with various retailers.
The EDC has a $35,000 contract with The Retail Coach to provide demographic research, marketing services and business recruitment. In a report to the EDC Board May 8, Farmer 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.
Dean said the information about Liberty Hill compiled so far by The Retail Coach can now be viewed on the website, www.libertyhilltx.gov/151/Economic-Development-Corporation.
In addition to a report on The Retail Coach, Dean updated the Board on a proposed Sign & Landscape Grant program intended for businesses on SH 29. Since last month,Dean had met with three sign companies and obtained pricing that he preferred not to share because the scope of the project should be better defined to obtain more accurate price comparisons.
The Board decided to create a committee to do more research on possible signage and appointed members Rick Hall, John Clark and Chapman. Dean added that Chapman’s retail development experience would be helpful to the project.
Dean also announced the EDC would host a Business Forum for SH 29 business owners from 8-10 a.m. June 14 at Liberty Hill Learning & Event Center. He said the purpose of the event is to allow businesses “to let us know what we’re doing right as a city, things that can be improved on, and find some common items we can work on together as a community to help promote business in Liberty Hill.”
Dean added that in recent weeks he has been visiting businesses on SH 29, introducing himself and talking about the EDC.
Last week’s regular monthly EDC Board meeting lasted 18 minutes. Members Jack Harkrider and Clark were not present.