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Study finds city 'leaking' money

PHILADELPHIA — A recent market assessment, which showed that Philadelphia is losing $81 million annually in automobile, grocery and full-scale restaurant sales alone, is now being used as an economic development tool by the mayor.

Mayor James A. Young said he is using the data in talks with major grocery and restaurant chains.

What’s more, a need for automobiles arose during a recent conference here in conjunction with the Allied African Nations Chamber of Commerce.

That, too, is being discussed, he said.

Products like automobiles, along with other goods and services that companies in Neshoba could export to countries in Africa, were outlined at the conference by Anthony A. L. Adjasse, president and CEO for the African Chamber.

Philadelphia is losing almost $28 million in automobile sales, annually, a market assessment by the Mississippi Main Street Association revealed earlier this year.

The assessment, part of an overall intensive design process or charrette, showed that of the $46 million consumers spend annually for automobiles, only $18 million of the purchases are being made in Philadelphia.

The difference is a “leakage” of $27.8 million, the assessment shows.

An estimated $12.3 million in sit-down restaurant business leaves Philadelphia annually, while about $41 million in grocery shopping is apparently being done elsewhere, the study revealed.

Young has already distributed copies of the findings to one major grocery chain, among others, he said.

In addition, Young has also been in talks with a restaurant chain.

The mayor called the findings “a road map to take the city as well as the county to the next level.”

Charrette presenter Tripp Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow and Associates, an urban planning firm based out of Greenville, S. C., used the word “leakage” to illustrate what occurs when a resident purchases items in other cities or over the Internet.

The market assessment was based on Neshoba County’s 2008 tax revenue data.

Tax revenue data from 2008 show that Philadelphia had primary trade area sales of $419.2 million, Muldrow said. Of that total, $390.3 million was spent by local consumers.

He told business leaders that means their neighbors are spending the most money with them but that Philadelphia is a hub.

The gains indicate that people are coming into Neshoba County to buy goods.

The market assessment showed that Meridian has become a “huge dining destination,” which could mean growth opportunity here, the report said.

Meridian grocery stores are clearly drawing dollars from Philadelphia, Muldrow said.

He recommended that leaders look at intercepting some of the dollars from consumers traveling from north Mississippi and through Philadelphia on their way to Meridian.

Other “leakage” included $31 million in motor vehicle and parts; $3.5 million in furniture and home furnishings; $6.5 million in electronics and appliances; $10.4 million in clothing and accessories; and $4.7 million in sporting goods, books and music.


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