Burlington offers market assessment to attract business

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(Host) The city of Burlington wants to encourage businesses to open up in the downtown shopping district. A Burlington official says the city will provide free market research for retailers interested in moving to the city’s commercial area.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Before a company spends tens of thousands of dollars renting retail space and opening up shop, the owners must first find out if the market is there for what they’re selling. The city of Burlington wants to help answer that question.

Bruce Seifer is the city’s assistant director of community development. He says a federal grant allows the city to pay for market research for retailers who may choose the downtown shopping area:

(Seifer) “It’s a wonderful opportunity for any business in Vermont that’s interested in locating in downtown, that they could get a free market assessment of how much business they could do based on a detailed assessment that’s being finalized right now.”

(Dillon) The city has used a national market research firm to develop sales projections for the Burlington area. Seifer says several stores have already used the data to test the downtown waters. Seifer’s trying to let other businesses know that the research is free. The information could help retailers decide between a city or a suburban location.

(Seifer) “If a store, let’s say had a house wares store and they’re located in the outlying areas, and were interested in locating downtown, as part of our contract they could get a sales forecast for their particular project, for their particular business.”

(Dillon) According to Seifer, the city’s offer for a free market research expires after Thanksgiving. Seifer says the downtown area has about 800,000 square feet of retail space. He says about a tenth of that is available to rent.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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