It’s pretty obvious that business is booming in Marble Falls. The sales tax report that came out yesterday reflects that, with our third straight month of double-digit percentage increases year-over-year. (Here is a copy of my presentation that outlines this and several other things.) There seem to be multiple grand openings, ribbon cuttings, construction permits pulled, and announcements made every week. All of this activity creates a lot of excitement (typically positive) and gives rise to the “What else should come to Marble Falls?” question. This is the focus of today’s blog.
First, I’ll talk about the role of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. Our objective is to encourage the right type(s) of business growth and development in our community. Contrary to what some may believe, we don’t build buildings for prospects or invest directly in restaurants. We would not be the ones to build a mall. Instead, we provide a lot of technical assistance, from sharing the latest data on sales information, permit activity, traffic counts, demographics, available properties, and more. We connect people with resources to help them make investments and open new or expand existing businesses in town.
In almost all cases, we respond to inquiries from prospects or real estate brokers rather than recruit businesses directly. Our preferred way to “recruit” is to extensively market the area and create networks with people who have connections to the right type(s) of businesses I mentioned above. In the last few years, we’ve had just over 300 conversations with prospects. This means that we supplied needed information to someone interested in our market by phone, email, or in person. (This doesn’t count the thousands of web site visitors we have who gather that information directly.) Of those 300+ conversations, 25 businesses have opened or expanded, and there are another 12 (that we know of) currently under construction or development.
Obviously, this means that most of the conversations we have don’t materialize into new businesses. It’s not typical that those prospects decide they don’t want to be here—instead, they back off because of financial reasons or because they couldn’t find a suitable site. There are numerous retailers and restaurants that have approved our market for an expansion, but they haven’t found the right site yet. This brings me back to today’s topic.
Many of the wish-list businesses I’ve seen mentioned on social media have information on Marble Falls, and some have even indicated that they would like to establish a presence here soon or sometime down the road. The real trick in getting them here is having the right real estate brokers and/or leasing managers who can work out the right deals in the right locations. Most retailers have very specific criteria related to daytime population, traffic counts, household income, parking requirements, rent rates, and more, so the list of potential sites is very short and the cost of those sites is very expensive, especially for a tertiary market with challenging site development conditions.
What we do have going for us, among other things, is a great location close to Austin but not in Austin, beautiful scenery, a growing economy, and amazing people who are eager to see Marble Falls flourish.
Please let us know if you’d like to have a conversation about Marble Falls.