Is there an opportunity for Henry County and the cities to work together towards attracting better retail? That’s the proposal being put forth by the county development authority and a retail strategist.
Henry County Development Authority (HCDA) is asking for each city and the county to contribute towards the cost of hiring the strategist. One city has already rejected the idea. Others have not yet considered it.
An update to this article is now available.
Can Henry County Attract More Retail?
In 2017, Henry County collected $35.1 million from its one percent SPLOST sales tax. By 2022, this number had grown to $57.5 million. This is a 64% increase in five years. These values represent one percent of sales, so Henry County had $5.7 billion in retail sales activity in 2022.
But Retail Strategies, an Alabama-based company working with HCDA, believes there’s potential for more. They estimate Henry County has retail leakage worth $368 million in annual sales. The majority of which — $260 million — is in grocery sales. Other categories include clothing & accessories, restaurants and sporting goods / hobbies.
New Grocery Stores
Henry County, and metro Atlanta as a whole, has seen a major investment by Publix to open new stores. There’s been new stores open in Ola and Kelleytown. Dutchtown and a possible fourth new location are also on the horizon. But outside of Publix, few other grocery stores are actively expanding.
BJs returned to McDonough after a decade-long absence. Costco and Kroger have begun construction on new locations after years of speculation and waiting. Lidl, a German-based grocer, cancelled plans to build in McDonough. Their nearest store is on 19/41 in Jonesboro.
Does Henry County meet the criteria to be considered by other companies? Some factors considered by retail businesses include average income, population density and percent college-educated.
The county has a median household income between $72–75 thousand, with some variation from different sources. The city of McDonough has a similar household income. The other cities range from $57 to $62 thousand. Some sections of the county — such as Dutchtown, Eagles Landing, Ola and Union Grove — have estimated average incomes in the $90-110 thousand dollar range.
For population, companies typically look at the density within 1, 3 and 5 miles of a location. A real estate listing in central Henry County, located near I-75 at Jonesboro Road, reports 90,000 residents within 5 miles. New apartments under construction will also add to this number.
Not every company publishes their criteria to open a new store. Of those who do, here are excerpts from two frequently-referenced companies:
- Whole Foods looks for at least 200,000 residents in a 20-minute drive-time and a large number of college-educated residents.
- Sprouts reports their typical shopper has an average household income of $121 thousand, and 69% are college graduates. They also search for sites with at least 40,000 daily vehicle trips. Such volume is typically associated with a six-lane road.
By comparison, Henry County has about 30% of its population with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This trails the national average of 35%.
Retail Strategist Proposal
If the county and cities move forward with hiring a retail strategist, then the company would prepare a market report for the county as a whole and each participating city. Their approach uses real estate analysis and a retailer void analysis to identify possible areas for new retail construction, as well as potential retailers not present in Henry County. The consultant would then seek to bridge the gap between the county, cities and commercial entities.
The Henry County Development Authority would serve as the primary point of contact with the strategist. They would also contribute the largest share of the consultant’s cost. HCDA is then asking each city and the county to contribute $10,000 for the initial year. The total cost would be $80 thousand for the first year, then $75k in years 2+3.
The Hampton council was the first governing body to consider the proposal at their June meeting. They rejected the offer to participate, citing the city has its own development authority. The Locust Grove council had the item on their June 20 agenda for discussion; the city considers approving items at their next meeting. The proposal has not yet come up in McDonough nor Stockbridge.
Without Hampton’s participation, it will have minor impacts on the cost-share being asked of each city. The amount is expected to be $11 thousand rather than ten. Stay tuned for more updates to follow!
Featured image shows the future site of Costco off Jodeco Road. Because We Care Henry County photo.
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