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City focuses on attracting new business

An effort to map Sunnyside's customer base and, in turn, attract new businesses was approved by the city council on Monday, Nov. 14.

"For some time we have been struggling with a process to recruit further economic development," City Manager Bob Stockwell told council. "We need to make sure we're capturing as many sales tax dollars as possible."

With that, Stockwell provided council a presentation on Texas-based Buxton Company's "CommunityID" program.

Rather than look at the sheer numbers of demographics, Stockwell said Buxton has the ability to chart consumer spending within Sunnyside and areas within a 15-minute drive of the city.

The company serves 1,000 retail clients, Stockwell continued, and will match consumer spending in the area with national retail businesses and restaurants.

"The idea is not to show businesses why they should locate in Sunnyside, but to show them they can't afford not to," Stockwell said.

Council agreed to partner with SEDA to hire Buxton at a total cost of $70,000. SEDA will contribute $25,000 towards hiring Buxton with the city paying $45,000.

"While the cost may seem high we need to remember that a single modest retailer or restaurant can easily generate $30,000 to $40,000 annually in sales tax to the city," Stockwell told council.

"So even if we get one new business from this contract it will pay for itself in the first year alone."

Stockwell said Buxton will complete its research by mid-January 2006, giving the city an early start on recruiting new business.

City council candidate Bruce Epps provided public comment on the plan, expressing support as long as Buxton pledges to recruit national chains besides those already in place.

Stockwell assured the public that Buxton will in fact help the city do just that. "They'll identify up to 20 new businesses that would be a good match for Sunnyside."

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