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Stafford receives recommendations for increasing retail market
Date published: 5/23/2012
A popular restaurant has signed a letter of intent to come to southern Stafford County, though officials can't yet say what it is.
The news fits the goal of the Board of Supervisors and Economic Development staff to bring more stores and restaurants to the county.
The county is already hearing encouraging things about a new retail and marketing study that has been distributed to area developers, according to Deputy County Administrator Tim Baroody.
"There are lots of obviously attractive features in Stafford County that make it obvious to us as professionals that retailers ought to be here in big numbers. But we have historically not had one document that pulled all those pieces together, and I think that's what this accomplished," Baroody said.
Because of the lack of retail, there is an estimated $656 million sales gap, according to the report by The Riddle Company, a business consulting firm. The gap represents the estimated amount Stafford residents spend outside the county--the difference between demand for goods and services and the actual sales within Stafford.
But, Baroody said, "The gap is closing."
Keeping those sales within Stafford would result in a sizable amount of tax revenue, said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Stimpson.
"We believe it's a quality-of-life issue, too," Stimpson said. "People want good restaurants and nice places to shop with their families."
The report, which cost the county $20,000 and took about six months to complete, outlines the county's economic state, and provides goals to make Stafford the next market for retailers to "pop."
Retail hasn't been a priority for the county's Economic Development team, the report states. While the Business and Professional Licensing Tax was eliminated, focus has been placed on attracting defense and technology firms, especially in North Stafford.
Baroody says the combination of industries is part of a targeted effort.
Unlike other areas, Stafford has not been "over-retailed."
There are more than 150 restaurants, but most are mid-price and fast-food establishments.
Restaurants that could help keep money in Stafford would be destination and international eateries, higher-end family and entertainment venues, and "date night" places, according to the report.
Many strong retail centers are located 30 to 45 minutes away from Stafford.