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  • Alisa Pyszka

Fostering a Great Place to Drive Economic Development

As described in a recent article regarding the resurgence of the pub in suburbs, we have been discussing the importance of great places, especially restaurants, to meet social needs since the 1980s. However, recently the importance of great places fulfilling communal tendencies has morphed into a necessary competitive advantage for businesses that are increasingly vying for talent.

We saw this first hand at Leland Consulting Group when we worked with the economic development department of a Portland suburb in response to consistent concern of CEOs in the community that there were not enough good local restaurants that would help them attract talent and entertain clients. Basically, there was a need to enhance their great place quotient.

In working with this community, we determined four key steps for a community to begin to foster a great place.

  1. Define Your Place: Restaurants like to gather with other restaurants to create a general location for people to go. When a city draws a defined boundary for a targeted investment area, restaurants can begin to understand opportunity and know where the city is focusing investments.

  2. Clearly Articulate Opportunity and Incentives: Provide a clear market analysis targeting the place defined in Step 1 to help a restauranteur understand the market opportunities that they can also share with lenders. In addition, provide a package of incentives for a restaurant. This can range from staff time dedicated to streamline permitting, to street improvements, to a street seats program. Restaurants love a vibrant street scene.

  3. Talk Directly to Existing Restauranteurs: Before talking to any new restaurants, a city must first work with existing local restaurants to share the concept of a targeted great place strategy. Almost all existing restaurants will be pleased by the effort because they know new restaurants will generate more customers for them as well.

  4. Tell Your Story: Define the targeted restaurants that meet your community needs: fast-casual, casual, informal fine dining, etc. Then prepare a concise story for your target audience that summarizes Steps 1 and 2, and call the targeted restaurants directly regarding a new market expansion opportunity into your great place.

Creating a great place is a true public-private partnership and requires city staff to remove as much risk as possible for local restaurateurs. If your community is ready to implement a “great place strategy,” Leland Consulting Group would be pleased to guide you through the process.

Alisa Pyszka is a Senior Associate at Leland Consulting Group. Alisa helps cities foster economic development and urban redevelopment by providing strategic guidance regarding industry cluster development, marketing and targeted real estate investments. Based on her extensive experience in the private and public sector she understands the needs and motivations of each interest, allowing her to provide meaningful advice that results in prosperity for a community.

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