Augusta is looking for retailers on Broad Street, and places beyond.
"The retail recruitment is critical for downtown but in addition to that, the retail recruitment is critical for the south end of Augusta as well as we're kind of short on the stick when it comes to restaurants and hotels and these types of things," says Commissioner Alvin Mason, who represents the Tobacco Road area of south Augusta.
To bring new businesses to Broad Street, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has hired a consulting firm from Alabama. Now, Augusta Commissioners want that same firm to also recruit businesses to the rest of Augusta.
"It's seamless, as far as we're concerned. They'll evaluate the downtown area and look for fits there, they'll evaluate the suburban area and look for fits there. That's what they'll do," says City Administrator Fred Russell.
We wanted to know if getting the city involved with would complicate what the DDA is doing or compliment...
"It's a compliment. We had them give a proposal to us and give a proposal to the city, as well, and there's some cost savings to the city," says DDA executive director Margaret Woodard.
Some Commissioners opposed hiring a recruiter when Russell first proposed it late last year because of the cost of adding a new city employee, but now the city is looking at a consulting firm.
"Yeah, I can support it but like I said from the beginning, I said I did not want it to be a full time Augusta-Richmond County job," says Commissioner Joe Jackson.
But, now a consulting firm could have the job of attracting businesses to Broad Street but also places like south Augusta.
"This is where we need to put our focus on, this is what we're going to be watching out for," says Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, who represents the south end of Richmond County,
So, does Guilfoylehe believe this consulting firm can serve two different masters, the city and the DDA? "I don't see why not," he says.
But, what if company "A" has a decision to make, whether it's Broad Street or Tobacco Road? "My goal is they decide Broad Street or Tobacco Road as opposed to Augusta or Columbia," says Russell.
Woodard says company decisions "will be based on demographics" that best fit the businesses, and maybe they "will pick both a Broad Street and Tobacco Road location".
Russell budgeted $80,000 for a retail recruiter, but if Commissioners approve hiring the firm, the cost will be $60,000 for a three-year contract.
The DDA will pay $40,000...with half of that cost coming from private sources.
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