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guestview: David Purvis talks ICSC, FBA

I just recently had the opportunity to attend the International Council of Shopping Centers (RECON, The Global Real Estate Convention) in Las Vegas, Nev., as a member of Farragut’s Economic Development Committee on behalf of the town of Farragut. I was accompanied by Alderman Bob Markli, Town associate administrator Gary Palmer and Jim Nixon, commercial real estate broker, partner in Turkey Creek Land Partners and member of EDC. Jim and I traveled mainly at our own expense and neither we, nor Bob, were compensated for this effort.

This was a four-day meeting that took about six months to plan. Meeting bi-weekly, we developed an action plan that consisted of a jam-packed schedule of meetings and a video highlighting the Town’s many features along with census data, all delivered on a two gigabyte USB drive on a lanyard emblazoned with the Town name and logo. Thanks to Gary’s forethought and hard work this was well received by the attendees as a thoughtful way to deliver a large amount of information without having to lug around large stacks of paper.

We planned and worked an exhausting schedule of appointments with a large number of retailers and developers, some of which already do business in the Town, but a great many whom we hoped to recruit into our community. We were often on the convention floor from opening at 8 a.m. until after the 8 p.m. closing, some days not even leaving the floor for lunch or a break, after which we would supper together in the hotel adjacent to the convention center, strategize the morrow’s schedule and retire exhausted to our rooms before 10 p.m. I was deeply impressed by the enthusiasm and willingness to work exhibited by the entire delegation.

Most of the developers we met with, such as Horne Properties, Inc., Colonial Properties, Bud Cullom, Schaad Companies, Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial and Graham Properties, already do business in our area. We worked to solidify the town’s relationship with those already working in Town and open new lines of communication with those who have shown a reluctance to undertake projects here.

The retailers were largely businesses that are already in Town, such as Taco Bell, KFC, Verizon Wireless and Hibbet Sports. But many of our appointments were with businesses we hoped to recruit, such as Costco, which announced it was coming to Farragut the week before our departure and were very encouraged by our visit, Lowe’s, Chuy’s, Dairy Queen, Office Depot, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Hilton Hotels — a Hampton Inn is being constructed on Campbell Station Road and should be open in July or August — Seattle’s Best Coffee, REI and Zoe’s Kitchen.

We also had the chance to meet with many other cities in our backyard and around the country. Cities such as Oak Ridge, Watertown, Lebanon/Wilson County, all in Tennessee, and Chino, Calif., Montebello, Calif., Fayetteville/Cumberland County, N.C, Dodge City, Kan., and La Vista, Neb. We obtained samples of their promotional materials, learned what they have accomplished by attending these conferences and how we can succeed in our efforts as well.

The reception by these and many other contacts was overwhelmingly positive and will bear fruit long into the future. It seems we have the right stuff, a great location and fantastic demographics.

Our take-away is for the Town to continue to succeed in driving economic development in a meaningful way, with an eye on the quality of life of our residents and in an aesthetically appealing manner, we must continue our efforts to recruit partners (developers and other businesses) and show them we will make a great partner in return.

Thank you to Bob Markli, Gary Palmer and Jim Nixon for their hard work (and sore feet) in working this conference and making it another success in our ongoing efforts to improve our community!


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