“It sure would be nice if Kewanee had _________.” You can fill in the blank with a lot of different things, from your favorite restaurant to your favorite stores in larger locales. Some of the options seem like no brainers. Geneseo has this one, Princeton has that one, Canton has another, and somebody else has something, too. The reality with how economic development works, though, makes all of the options a lot easier to talk about than actually get. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell.
First, there has to be a market for whatever it is. The market is determined by the number of people who live in an area, drive to or through an area, their disposable income that can be spent on a particular type of goods and services, and in some cases the ages of the people in the given area. For Kewanee, we’ve established what gaps exist in our market and how much money leaves our community each year for each sector of the retail market. That helps to identify a list of specific brands to market to or types of stores to attract.
Second, of the national/regional stores that are in that target group, two different models exist; corporate stores and franchises. With franchises, you have to find someone from the area who has the resources to invest in putting a store here, or someone who’s not from here that is willing to invest their money in the area. In either case, the person has to have not just the money for the franchise, but the ability to make sure that the business is run properly. With corporate stores, we have to be able to show not just that we can sustain a store, but that we can sustain their store better than most of the other communities that are options for store development. If a department store is opening twenty stores in a given year, for instance, you have to be able to show that you are in the top twenty of the fifty sites they are considering.
Of course, there’s the option of developing local concepts that don’t have the national name, but they still need an entrepreneur with the resources to start the business, the knowledge, skills, and ability to operate it, and the desire to take on the risks that come with business ownership. Without the brand recognition that comes from a national name, it’s even harder for such businesses to survive because their market is smaller than it otherwise would be.That’s a short explanation of why it’s sometimes hard to create, attract, or even retain businesses; not just in this community, but in other places, as well. All that said, we’re doing everything we can to overcome those challenges and improve the economic climate in the community. You can learn more about those efforts on the here on the City’s website.