City looking to hire consultant to recruit retailers

HORN LAKE — The city of Horn Lake is proceeding with plans to hire a consultant to help the city attract retail development.

Mayor Allen Latimer and aldermen agree outside help is needed to bolster the city’s efforts to compete with neighboring Southaven and Olive Branch, as well as other Memphis area communities battling for growth in a still-struggling economy, but they’re at odds over how quickly to act.

The Commercial Appeal reports some aldermen, led by Tim Smith, are ready to hire Retail Strategies, a Birmingham, Ala., firm that made a presentation to aldermen in August. Others, led by Alderman Charlie Roberts, say it’s too soon to make a deal that would lock Horn Lake into a three-year commitment.

After lengthy debate at a recent board meeting, aldermen decided to table the matter until the next meeting Oct. 1 to give city staff more time to research the issue.

“I believe this is something we need to do because we have not been able to get folks out there to promote the city of Horn Lake at these mall conventions,” Smith said of the Retail Strategies contract proposal. “We need some outside help to get things moving.”

Alderman Bryan Pettigrew agreed. “I don’t have time and the mayor doesn’t have time to go out there and recruit them,” Pettigrew said. “We need to get somebody out there who knows what they’re doing.”

The price tag of the proposal gives pause to some aldermen, including Smith.

“I think we ought to take a little bit of extra time and study this,” Smith said of the three-year deal that would pay Retail Strategies $40,000 the first year and $20,000 each of the remaining two years of the contract. “I have no problem with trying to promote the city, but we need to slow down.”

The discussion spotlights the challenge facing Horn Lake, which struggles to keep pace with retail-rich Southaven to the immediate east and Olive Branch to the east of Southaven.

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