Jackson brings on private consultants to help recruit businesses to the city

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 12:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson is bringing on private consultants to help bring new business to the city.

At its meeting Tuesday, the city council approved hiring NaviRetail LLC and The Retail Coach, to help recruit businesses to the U.S. 80, East County Line Road, and Downtown Jackson corridors.

NaviRetail’s contract is for $20,000 for 12 months, while the Retail Coach’s contract is for $31,000 for 12 months.

The NaviRetail agreement was approved on a 6-1 vote, with Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes being the lone dissenting voice.

The Retail Coach contract was approved 5-0, with Stokes and Ward Four Councilman Stamps absent for the vote.

Stokes questioned why the city needed to bring on more private consultants when previous consulting contracts have been unsuccessful.

“How are we going to guarantee they’re going to do what they’re going to do and start Jackson moving again?” he asked. “I don’t mind that we have a contract with somebody, but we have to make sure they perform the contract.”

For his part, Stamps said rather than attempting to attract businesses, he said the city needs to focus on growing its population.

“Right now, Jackson is filled with senior citizens and young people. What we have to do is attract and retain our middle class, so we can have the population to sustain business and move the city forward,” he said. “We have to get our population back.”

Between 2010 and 2019, Jackson’s population fell from 173,551 to 160,628, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During the same time, Madison’s population has grown by 6.5 percent, while Ridgeland’s has fallen by a little less than one percent.

Meanwhile, Jackson has a median household income of approximately $39,000 a year, compared to a median household income of $60,823 in Ridgeland and $114,521 in Madison, Census data shows.

The firms will be responsible for conducting an assessment of the market areas and targeting specific businesses to come to those areas, according to city documents.

Deputy Director of Planning and Development Jhai Keeton said that work will include assessing metrics, such as cell phone data, to show where people from Jackson go shopping.

Once that data is pulled, it can be used to target specific businesses to meet residents’ needs.

It was not known how the companies would obtain information.

The Retail Coach will “target 30 retailers suitable for Hwy. 80 and County Line Road’s site selection data,” city documents state.

Similarly, NaviRetail will target between 15 and 30 businesses for downtown.

The Retail Coach has offices in Tupelo and Austin, according to its website. NaviRetail is based in Memphis.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the agreements don’t guarantee that new development will come to Jackson.

However, he said the contracts are needed to ensure Jackson is part of the conversation when it comes to helping Jackson get a second look from businesses looking to relocate or expand.

“What they have are relationships with businesses. Businesses reach out to (these consultants) when they’re trying to expand their portfolios,” he said. “They look at the research when it comes to car counts, household income and other factors that businesses look at when trying to locate (somewhere).”

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