City council will vote on contracting retail analysis of Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will vote on whether to hire a retail consultant firm to perform market research in Columbia Monday.

Retail Strategies, LLC is the consultant firm selected by the city as the preferred vendor for this service. Retail Strategies, LLC is based out of Birmingham, Alabama. 

The goal of the research is to clarify the market in Columbia by conducting consumer behavior analysis, market analysis, and identifying the effect of college students on the market.

Tony St. Romaine, Columbia's Deputy City Manager, said the goal with hiring Retail Strategies is to encourage bigger box stores with more than $10 million or more in revenue per year, like Costco, to locate in Columbia.

"People are traveling outside of Columbia to go visit stores like that," Romaine said. "So we can actually keep those sales tax dollars in Columbia versus having them go to another community."

Once the research is complete, the firm would represent Columbia nationally to businesses in order to draw more retail and restaurants to Columbia.

"The more we can encourage additional retail here in Columbia, the more better off we will be," St. Romaine said.

The market in Columbia is expected to expand when the retail area south of the city off Highway 63 is completed. This area will have several openings for new business to move to Columbia.

The three-year cost of the market research service will be less than $100,000 in taxpayer money. The city's total budget is around $72 million.

The Columbia City Council will vote on the contract agreement Monday night.