The city of Lacey has so far received a “very good” response to a retail preference survey, one of two surveys recently announced by the city to help guide its economic development efforts.
That was the message delivered by George Smith, the city’s economic development coordinator, who addressed Lacey City Council on Thursday and outlined some of the work he will be doing over the next two years.
Smith, who has an MBA from Eastern Washington University, was hired by the city in October. He previously worked in economic development for the city of Fresno, California.
The retail preference survey, which asks residents three questions about stores or other services they’d like to see in Lacey, is both online and in print.
The print survey was distributed in city utility bills. Some residents have received their bills while others are just getting theirs, Smith said.
So far about 300 to 400 people have completed the survey online, while 89 have either mailed or dropped off the print version of the survey.
Smith also is awaiting the results of a second survey that polls business owners through the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce.
That survey, too, poses three questions, including: What three things could the city do, or do differently, to help your business be more successful?
Once the results are final, Smith and Lacey Community Development Director Rick Walk plan to travel to Las Vegas in May and use the data to possibly recruit a business at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention.
Want to take the survey? You can find it online at http://www.ci.lacey.wa.us/retail-survey, or check your utility bill.
As part of his work, Smith also plans to address what he called “priority properties,” such as a vacant grocery store site in the city.
The specific store wasn’t named during the meeting, but it is known to many as the former Albertsons store at Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road.
But such sites, said Smith after his presentation, are challenging because they are large yet typically are in the wrong area to attract another big-box store; another grocery store won’t go there because Safeway is across the street; and the type of property makes it hard to subdivide for other uses.
Lacey City Councilman Jeff Gadman asked Smith about whether anything has surprised him about Lacey.
Smith’s reply? Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
He knew the base was important to Lacey, but didn’t realize just how dependent the city is on the base and how many people who live in the city work there. But in the event of a sizable reduction in troops at the base, it’s also the city’s biggest threat, he said.
Smith also wants to enhance the city’s website with economic development information. He discovered the website didn’t have any of that information when he was researching Lacey prior to applying for the economic development coordinator job.
Among his ideas for the website: targeted information for business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as content to foster startups and retain, expand and attract businesses.