Business reels in retailers in rural locales

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Andrew Moreau, November 21, 2021

Across Arkansas, it’s not uncommon for amateur anglers to hire guides who know the best fishing spots and supply all the materials needed to land a big catch.

Rural leaders in the state are doing much the same thing to attract retail businesses to their communities. The small cities are turning more and more to a Birmingham, Ala.-based firm to build marketing plans that are the bait they need to reel in retailers

The effort is gaining traction and has helped Newport persuade Cobblestone to build a 54-room hotel. Harrison attracted a Planet Fitness to fill an abandoned discount store. Paragould lured a Freddy Frozen Custard & Steakburger outlet to the site of a former funeral home.

On Nov. 2, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission coordinated a daylong Retail Academy session including city and economic development officials representing Corning, Mena, Prescott and Warren.

“We’re small-town America and we don’t have the financial or personnel resources to develop an economic development plan for our community,” said Mena Mayor Seth Smith. “This gave us a lot of information about what would be a good fit for our community and who we should approach. Before this, we didn’t know who to really call.”

“This gave us a lot of information about what would be a good fit for our community and who we should approach. Before this, we didn’t know who to really call.”

Mena Mayor Seth Smith

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Cypress, CA

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