Throughout the UK, there are many cities that have created specific plans devoted to encouraging new retail businesses. Norwich, Northamptonshire, Oxford and many other communities have focused their efforts on encouraging, developing and sustaining new retail establishments, business sectors and the infrastructure needed to promote investment and success.

In Part I of our two-part article devoted to helping you choose the right premises for your business, we will consider what defines a supportive municipal environment for new companies. Although there will be individual nuances you'll want to bear in mind when selecting the specific address for your storefront, there are broader issues to be evaluated first before you choose the community in which your company will reside.

Regional and National Reputation

First, starting a retail establishment in a city or area that has an economic plan devoted to developing and advocating its regional and national reputation is desirable. If a municipality is willing to put forth the effort to attract various types of companies, especially large employers, then the ground will be fertile for retailers. Also, there is likely to be development money for new businesses.

Business Diversity

Regions that are interested in an economy that embraces various types of businesses tend to create a more stable trade environment. If there's a focus on one sector, such as high tech, and not much else, the local economy will ebb and flow as does that one enterprise category. Additionally, a mixture of small, medium and large companies tend to offer more opportunity due to the range of business traffic they attract.

Emphasis on Education

A city that wants to develop workforce that is continually being educated is a city that will foster ongoing growth. Searching through history, one of the trends one discovers is that economic instability occurs when workers are unable to adapt through education to changing developments in technology, business opportunities and economic shifts. Also, there is a direct relationship between continued education and earning power, which translates into more dispensable income that can be spent at local retailers.

Sound Economic Development Plan

A city or region that has created a well thought out economic development plan is one that has the best chance at succeeding. The plan should include a five to ten year timeframe and a commitment to reviewing and modifying the plan bi-annually of annually.

Key elements in any plan include:

  • A coalition of government, community and economic sources devoted to implementing and supporting the plan.
  • A clear description of challenges that the municipality is going to undertake.
  • Specific goals relating to the workforce, investment and educational opportunities.
  • A description of constituents to be served.
  • A specific course of action, which is outlined and detailed.
  • Particulars regarding the development of infrastructure.
  • A clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses within that community.
  • A realistic statement of how the city relates to the region and nation as an economic, cultural and educational force.
  • A timeline outlining how the plan will be further developed or implemented.

With any plan, you are looking for a reasonable analysis of the existing situation and how it will be altered. Many plans will denote specific geographic areas that will be developed or will describe the characteristics of the types of neighborhoods they are interested in serving. Consider how your business will literally fit into that area.

Next Step

Part II focuses on what you'll need to consider for your specific establishment. Along with reviewing this next article, if you're creating your first retail storefront, you'll want to read our piece entitled Developing a Solid Business PlanóDetails You Won't Want to Forget.