The McDonough council was the fourth and final city to consider the retail consultant contract. The council considered action on it during their Monday, July 17, meeting.
Like two other cities within the county, several members of the city council had reservations and concerns. A vote to reject the contract failed by a 3-3 vote. It can be reconsidered at the next meeting.
Retail Consultant Contract
The proposed retail consultant contract would hire Retail Strategies out of Birmingham, AL. The company would develop a market report for new retail within the county, as well as each participating city. This includes several components, such as a real estate analysis to identify possible sites and retailer void analysis. Finally, the company would represent the county to commercial brokers. The end-goal would be to encourage not only new retail, but also different retailers to locate in Henry County.
The proposal was born out of a desire by residents for better retail within the county. The Henry County Development Authority put forth a proposal that each city contribute $10 thousand dollars to participate. The development authority and county would cover half of the consultant’s fee. The first year of the contract costs $80 thousand. Subsequent years would cost less.
The Hampton council was the first governing body to consider the proposal. They considered it at their June meeting. Their council rejected the offer, citing they have their own development authority who could complete the work. Secondly, the Locust Grove council took up the matter. They found the partnership was a better cost-offer than doing the work themselves. The Locust Grove council approved the agreement on July 3.
Thirdly, the Stockbridge council considered it on July 10. Several council members had concerns. In addition, they sought more guarantees the newly-formed Stockbridge Development Authority would be involved. The council tabled the matter until their next meeting later in July.
Finally, the McDonough council considered it. Council members weren’t sure of the potential benefits the consultant would provide. Councilman Reeves remarked major commercial companies each have real estate departments, and he was not sure what the consultant could provide differently. Councilman Burt added he would rather invest in small businesses. Finally, several council members raised a concern their cost-share could increase if Stockbridge does not participate.
The council voted 3-3 on a motion to deny the contract. Council members Burt, Reeves and Stewart voted in favor; whereas, Mayor Vincent, council members Pruett and Thomas voted in opposition. Councilwoman Varner was absent. The council can reconsider the item at their next meeting. It will be on Thursday, August 3.
Right now, the retail consultant contract awaits the decision of the county’s two largest cities. The Henry County Board of Commissioners will also consider the item on August 1, according to the development authority. This may change so to wait until all cities have reached a decision. The county commissioners meet twice monthly.
Featured image shows a digital rendering of retail development. Special photo. Article updated on August 9 for accuracy on next steps.
Can MHF News Count on You?
If you enjoyed this content, please consider subscribing to MHF News. You will be supporting locally-produced news within Henry County and receive access to all of our news articles.