Rescue Plan Funds

Retail Academy Application

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has offered the Retail Academy program to 97 communities over the past 5 years. The program won the National Association of Development Organization award for innovation and has helped contribute a $19.6M return on investment to the state of Tennessee.

We are partnering with Retail Strategies to conduct the 6th Annual Tennessee Retail Academy event. The Retail Academy program is an approved use of your communities American Rescue Plan funds. As part of Tennessee’s rural task force initiative, we encourage you to allocate funding toward retail.  The rate is $10,000 per program. Your community may participate in any or all programs. See a description of the programs below and fill out a form if you are interested. You will be contacted by Retail Strategies on next steps.

The goal is to provide cities with the resources and education necessary to enhance their retail landscape and improve their economy as a whole. Retail Academy will educate communities on best practices to attract new retailers while providing resources and support to existing local businesses. Retail Academy will empower cities to increase their local sales and property tax collections as well as increase the overall quality of life.

Become a partner with us through ARP funds to host a Retail Academy and accept Small Business Support.

Qualifying communities must have population less than 50,000.

$10,000 Value

Retail Academy

Retail Academy 101 is a program developed from a leading national retail advisory firm, Retail Strategies. The program assists communities in strengthening their retail landscape. Communities will be trained through an online course and in-person networking event with the tools and education necessary to attract new retailers to their markets, while providing support to their existing local businesses. Retail Academy’s customized training includes education on the Retail Recruitment Plan provided, how to create an elevator pitch, setting conference meetings, prospect outreach, and where to find industry-leading information critical to implementing a long-term retail recruitment plan. Click HERE for more info.

What's Included


Online introductory course to Retail Recruitment. The course covers Retailer lingo, site criteria, location analysis, as well as a custom demographic report for your community.


Peer Analysis
Mobile Tracking Data
GAP Analysis
Trade Area
Demographics Overview

Retail Recruitment Tools

Retailer Prospects
Real Estate analysis
Customized Retail Marketing Guide
Aerial Map with Retailers Plotted


Real Estate Expert Speakers

Current Industry Trends
Site Selection 101
Retail Recruitment & Marketing
Public/Private Partnerships

Networking Event

Retail Brokers
Neighboring Communities

$10,000 Value

Retail Advisor

Retail Academy 201, or Retail Advisor teaches communities how to identify retail sites and customize outreach to national retailers.

Working as an extension of your staff, Retail Advisor goes beyond data providing ongoing coaching and feedback specific to your market. Retail Advisor guides you through the retail recruitment process serving as a member of your team. We provide you with the marketing materials, real estate flyers, and 1:1 coaching on how to pitch to brokers, developers, and retail real estate professionals. Our goal is to help you navigate the retail recruitment process. Click HERE for more info.

What's Included


Online course teaching you how to understand real estate and requirements from specific retail and restaurant companies. Ongoing in-depth training from a real estate professional.

Data Analysis

Demographics of the market refreshed semi-annually, retail matches.

Retail Estate Analysis

Customized trade area, GAP report and peer analysis, real estate trends.

Marketing Materials

Site Strategies marketing flyers, real estate identification, and market aerial.

Real Estate Speakers

  • Current Industry Trends
  • Site Selection 101
  • Retail Recruitment & Marketing
  • Public/Private Partnerships

Networking Event

  • Retail Brokers
  • Developers
  • Neighboring Communities

$10,000 Value

Downtown Strategies

Retail Academy 301, or Downtown Academy will focus on downtown retail development. Downtown Academy exists to assist communities in taking the next, or first, step in their Downtown’s journey.

Revitalizing downtown communities is complex. We identify and create a tailored strategy to enhance, revitalize, and mobilize your community’s efforts. When properly fueled, your Downtown can be a powerful economic, tourism, and quality of life engine and our team of professionals can help you define your potential and empower you to achieve it.

Through the Downtown Revitalization curriculum, we breakdown the five pillars of any successful downtown’s mix: Market Analysis, Economic Vitality, Tourism & Promotion, Design, and Organization, and provide insight and tools to customize these five pillars of success in your own Downtown.

What's Included


Downtown Academy includes a proprietary Downtown Revitalization training course, offered through our go-at-your-own-pace virtual platform, which covers:

  • Principals of Practical Downtown Revitalization
  • Market Analysis
  • Policy & Administration
  • Design
    Tourism & Promotion
  • Case Study
  • Economic Vitality
  • 8 Steps to Recruiting Retail &
  • Restaurants to your Downtown
  • Creative Strategies for Backfilling Vacancies


Downtown Deliverable

A customized deliverable will be assembled with unique, asset-based, and market-driven strategic recommendations for your Downtown.

Customized Research

  • Identification of market trade area using mobile data analysis
  • Trade area demographics (population, income, housing, etc.)
  • Market and retail GAP analysis for trade area (i.e. leakage and surplus)
  • Tapestry lifestyles – psychographic profile of trade area
  • Consumer Spending Pattern Reports
  • Commute Patterns Report
  • Identification of priority business categories for entrepreneurship, recruitment and/or local expansion
  • Downtown Building Inventory
  • Downtown Walkability Assessment
  • Downtown Neighborhood Demographics

$25,000 Value

Small Business Support

Small Business Support platform that provides live technical assistance, tutorials, deliverables, online workshop and data to an unlimited number of the owners and operators of your community businesses and properties.

COVID-19 has changed the retail and business world in the United States and globally, and small businesses have been disproportionately negatively affected. As of March 31, 2021, 39% of America’s small businesses were closed compared to January 2020. Similarly, 61% of the United States’ small businesses did not have an online presence prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it extremely difficult for them to connect with customers during restrictions.

In America, small businesses make up 99% of all businesses nation-wide. They are the heart of communities and represent character and resiliency.  We have narrowed down the two operational issues where the most attention is needed to maximize store sales for survival.

What's Included

Live Online Training 1:

Omni-channel Retail Strategies for Local Businesses

60-minute live training through Zoom featuring retail industry trends, COVID-19 retail update, 6 Steps to Implement an Omnichannel Retail Strategy, and Q&A.

Deliverables for Local Businesses:

Digital marketing guide detailing industry trends regarding digital commerce, marketing strategies for jump starting sales, (especially during times when shoppers can’t reach brick and mortar,) and a step-by-step tutorial on how to create an online presence for storeowners.
Guide: Optimizing your Facebook Page to assist local businesses understand top strategies and mistakes to avoid when it comes to their Facebook pages.
Template content calendar deliverable in Excel format providing a best practice example of how to chart out social messages, promotions, sales, and opportunities for shoppers.

Live Online Training 2:

Restaurant Recovery Strategies for Success

60-minute live training through Zoom identifying tangible, implementable strategies for restauranteurs to meet consumer needs and tighten up their operations.

POS system review, pros/cons of partnering with delivery services, outdoor dining and curbside pick-up, and marketing and branding for success will be covered.

Deliverable for Local Businesses:

Restaurant Resource Toolkit with industry trends, strategies for retooling your restaurant menu, claiming your digital presence, and defining your brand.


The Retail Academy will begin with online learning and customized materials once payment is received. The Retail Academy event is a two-day course that will provide training on materials directly related to your community and its retail prospects. The event will take place in in Q1 of 2022 in Franklin, TN. More details to follow.

2-3 community members who can devote time over the coming year to retail development and recruitment are encouraged to attend the entire session. They should be from local government, chambers of commerce, real estate or other similar fields who are committed to working with retailers and property owners for the next year or more.

Retail development is a long-term economic development strategy and will require a concerted effort over several years. This Academy will provide helpful tools, training and resources that will assist in your retail development efforts.

Role or Position
to select more than one, Shift + Click


Contact Us and we will help out.

We have online and In-person courses.