Economic developers have a reputation for being secretive and even hoarding data. Alva’s Chamber of Commerce is trying to be different and releasing a key set of retail data to the public.
Alexandra Mantz (just call her Alex) serves as both director for the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Director for the City of Alva. (Yes, it’s a small town.) A few years ago, she arranged to get a retail gap study to find out what people are leaving town to buy. It shows opportunities that exist in local retail. She’s used this data to go out and talk to outside retailers, trying to convince them to locate in Alva. That way, Alva can capture more of those sales. She tells me that on occasion, she takes heat for trying to recruit outside retailers. Since she’s receiving a newly updated study, Alex has decided to share that opportunity data with the Alva community to let Alva entrepreneurs have first chance at these opportunities.
She’s arranged an Alva Area Business Development Summit, where the author of the gap study will also present demographics and retail trade info. The event is going to lay out the case for several business opportunities that exist in the Alva market. And it is going to do this in public, for everyone who is interested to attend.
Because locally-owned small businesses are associated with more prosperous communities than chain retail, this is a chance to get some local businesses to step up. If local entrepreneurs can and will take on these opportunities, then Alex won’t have to go looking for outside retailers. And maybe the next gap analysis will show a few gaps were filled by locally-owned small businesses.
Any small town can do an event like this using any data that shows current opportunities in town. If you don’t have any local data like that, start with your local cooperative extension service. They either can do these studies or they can point you to the people who do.
The Alva Area Business Development Summit will be June 3, 2013, 12pm to 2pm in the NWOSU Student Center, Ranger Room. Lunch is provided, and RSVPs are requested. You can RSVP by call or text: 580 748 2730 or email: chamber at alva ok dot net.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.