Pierre looks to study retail development potential

Nick Lowrey/Capital Journal - Pierre city officials want to hire a consultant to take a fresh look at what stores and restaurants the area can support.

City Administrator Leon Schochenmaier told the City Commission Feb. 23 that he has been looking for a company to perform a retail study in Pierre. The idea, he said, is to generate fresh data that can be used at conferences such as the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon to sell the city to retail businesses looking for new locations.

“One of the things you need to put your best foot forward is data,” Schochenmaier said.

He told Commission members that the last such study was conducted around eight years ago and helped convince Menards to build a store in Pierre. Schochenmaier said Jim Protexter with the Pierre Economic Development Corporation had been in contact with a few consulting firms before landing on Arizona based Jeff Green Partners and the Nebraska based Hoffman Strategy Group, which will work together on the study.

The study would look at 10 areas important to expanding retailers including; the size of the area the Pierre draws customers from, market potential in dollars, sales forecasts and updated population and demographic information. The study would cost between $19,000 and $24,000, according to a written proposal from the two consultants.

Schochemaier said the city could use the $250,000 contingency fund to pay for the study. He said he needed the Commission’s approval to transfer the money. Schochenmaier also said the PEDCO had agreed to spend $3,500 on the project as well.

Commissioner Steve Harding said he thought the study was a good idea but had reservations about making a decision to pay for the study that night.

“I would have like to have known this was going on before tonight,” He said. “I just want to make sure we’re getting the right folks to get the data we need.”

Harding’s concern pushed Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill to suggest that the Commission wait a week to make a decision on whether to transfer money from the contingency fund until their March 1 meeting. She said Protexter will be at that meeting and will be able to provide more details on the study.