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S'side getting a read on new business prospects

Sometime within the next few weeks the city of Sunnyside should have a pretty good handle on the types of new businesses that would be a good fit for the local community.

That's thanks to a $70,000 survey now being conducted by the Texas-based Buxton Company.

The survey is funded with $45,000 from the city and $25,000 from the Sunnyside Economic Development Association.

Buxton, which states that it serves 1,000 retail clients, is gathering survey information from consumer spending habits within Sunnyside and other areas within a 15-minute drive.

"The service they (Buxton) provide is generated by information related to the buying habits of the people that live and shop in our community," said Mark Kunkler, Sunnyside's Assistant City Manager.

Buxton is also using records of credit card item purchases as well as information from the city in conducting its research.

Kunkler said the city is working with Buxton to provide information on Sunnyside's current retailers and those who have left.

City-provided information also includes housing, housing starts, new subdivisions, comprehensive plan maps and zoning maps.

The maps, Kunkler explained, will help Buxton identify areas of the city zoned for retail construction and use.

"We are also identifying particular areas of the city we would like them to pay special attention to like the Waneta Interchange and the Yakima Valley Highway corridor," Kunkler added.

Buxton is conducting a market area analysis, Kunkler noted, which will show the spending habits of people within a 15 minute drive of the city.

"They may look at a bit larger market area for us since people here are used to driving longer distances to shop," he added.

The Buxton survey should be complete sometime between mid-January and mid-February. When finished, the survey will identify specific national retailers that would be a good fit for Sunnyside.

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell has estimated that if even one new national retailer is recruited through the survey, it could generate $30,000 to $45,000 annually in sales tax proceeds to the city.

"The idea is not to show businesses why they should locate in Sunnyside," Stockwell said of the Buxton study when talking to the city council on Nov. 14. "But to show them they can't afford not to."

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