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|Monroe council signs off on retail study|
The Monroe City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to spend $70,000 for Buxton Inc. to conduct a retail marketing strategy for the city.
Since announcing the proposed agreement with Buxton last month, Mayor Jamie Mayo has said it would be a different approach by the city in going after retail and restaurant prospects to locate here. He said the marketing strategy would give the city a chance to aggressively market Monroe to potential restaurants and retail chains.
However, some city councilmen questioned whether the study by Buxton would duplicate efforts by the city, which is currently involved in two other studies geared toward economic development.
City councilman Robert Johnson questioned why the ongoing comprehensive plan for the city did not take into account the retail and restaurant opportunities.
"I cannot imagine that is not a component of the comprehensive plan," Johnson said. "Retail is our life support and why would it not be an element of the comprehensive plan?"
"I'm in favor of this but my concern is we duplicating efforts with these studies?" he said.
The city in April hired a Buffalo consulting firm for $211,366 to devise a comprehensive plan for Monroe to pursue in the years to come, which includes plans for growth, economic development and revitalization efforts within the city limits.
Mayo told the city council that the city is not duplicating efforts by hiring Buxton, while also utilizing the services of the New York firm.
Mayo also said he knows there is some confusion in the community whenever the word 'study' is mentioned.
"I know when they hear the word 'study' they say, 'Here we go again,'" Mayo said. "But this is not a study; it's a marketing strategy."
"With the comprehensive plan, we are dealing with zoning, housing, transportation, but there is no mechanism in it to go out and market for retail," Mayo continued. "There are opportunities for retail all over the city and we're not going to keep what we have forever."
"We've never had a retail marketing strategy that I know of, and here we are investing in one," he added.
Councilman Ben Katz said the city has three outstanding studies underway. He suggested those involved with them come before the council to update it on the progress of each one.
"We've spent $300,000 on studies and I'd like to know where they are," Katz said. "We need feedback on what's been done."
Mayo agreed that the public needs to be educated on each study and what each one of them will do.
With the council's approval Tuesday night, Buxton will develop a marketing strategy and determine the best retail and restaurant opportunities for south Monroe, mid-town, downtown and the Interstate 20 corridor.