Dedicated website, pool of incentives announced
Denver’s Office of Economic Development (OED) announced two major initiatives designed to strengthen the city’s retail business sector and encourage more retailers to open their doors, offer a wider range of merchandise and create jobs. The OED has developed a new retail recruitment and marketing website, and it launched a new incentive program for prospective retailers.
“We’re committed to growing Denver’s retail scene, providing a supportive environment to deliver a more robust offering of retailers that meets the shopping needs of our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “We are delivering on the first steps under the city’s strategic retail plan to grow Denver’s retail markets by strengthening the city’s retail hubs and by bringing more opportunity to business districts throughout the city."
The website at www.denverretailscene.com was developed to showcase Denver’s increasingly vibrant mix of retail and chef-driven restaurants, provide a summary of shopping districts and areas, highlight news as well as appealing opportunities in the industry, personalize the potential for success here through entrepreneurs’ stories, and provide access to a GIS-based mapping and data tool. Targeted to retailers and retail real estate professionals, the site will be updated monthly to include additional retail areas throughout the city.
Simultaneously, the OED announces its new Retail Attraction Program. Initially funded with $200,000 that was approved in the 2014 city budget, the program provides an incentive pool for the OED to attract prospective retailers to Denver. The program supports small, to mid-sized retailers and is focused on ‘first in market’ retailers, locally unique stores, and those that fill a particular gap where customers’ needs are not being met. The program is aimed at new retailers to the market or existing, successful retailers seeking to add additional stores to better serve their Denver customers.
“We now have a comprehensive, robust retail recruitment strategy and toolkit that should result in increased retail sales tax activity,” said OED Executive Director Paul Washington.
The new dollars available to support retail growth reinforces the city’s recruitment package overall, Washington said, which already includes a business personal property tax credit, site selection assistance, other strategic lending options, and workforce development services such as job fairs and custom training.
Last year, the city commissioned a Retail Conditions and Opportunities Study that highlighted Denver’s potential to become a recognized retail center, but also defined challenges around the city’s lack of large-site general merchandise stores, the sales tax revenue “leakage” that occurs as a result when city residents shop elsewhere, and the need for a more concerted retail recruitment strategy on the part of local government. Local retail/development executives and civic organizations have served on a all-volunteer Denver Retail Strategic Advisory Council since 2012.
“The combination of the new site and the new incentive strategy is a significant milestone of our JumpStart 2014 strategic plan for economic development,” Washington said. “We look forward to exciting announcements in the future as these efforts bear fruit.”