Andrew Nash / The Morning Sun – This time last year, Pittsburg commissioners were getting ready to see the first results of a hotel/retail feasibility study for the community. Less than a year later, that study is already paying dividends.
Blake Benson, Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President and city economic development director, said that study, as well as one conducted by Pittsburg State students a few years ago, have helped secure the arrival of new restaurants and created a new talking point for the community.
“The student survey really gave a lot of opinions and recommendations from the student sense,” Benson said. “The Hoffman Strategy Group/Jeff Green Partners study helped us put the numbers in,” Benson said. “The students said they wanted places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Rib Crib. While businesses do like seeing what students want, they also want numbers and projections.
“In fact, the studies may have helped push one of those restaurants over the edge.
“I do know the developers were speaking to Buffalo Wild Wings for quite some time [before the study],” Benson said. “Jeff Green did the retail part, and that came at a critical juncture. When they were in meetings, that put them over the finish line, so to speak. Here are the demographics and projected sales for one, two, three years, even up to five years. It met their minimum threshold for a new store.
“Those numbers have come in handy for other businesses not listed in either study. For instance, Benson said that Gusano’s took a look at the demographics and traffic patterns available in the study. Benson said he thinks that information helped in their pursuit, as well.
One thing that hasn’t seen much response so far has been the hotels sector, which was done by the Hoffman Strategy Group. Benson said that the hotels and restaurants will often bring about the other.
“They compliment each other very well. Hotels are bigger projects at $6-$8 million for even a small or mid-sized hotel, and they move a little slower. I think we’ll see in 2015, we’ll see the fruits from the hotel study start to come in,” Benson said.
He said that the two studies help in two primary ways: First to provide key data to potential hotel and retail owners that helps Pittsburg to stand out, and second, it shows the readiness of the community to have such numbers available. He said that even those outside the hospitality sector have been seeking the studies to get a better idea on the community, how much disposable income is available, and what the demographics are.
“We think the return on investment has been significant already. We’re continuing to make contacts with the recommendations listed in [the Hoffman/Jeff Green study]. It’s something that will continue to pay off for several years,” Benson said. “It’s good information for businesses of all kinds.”