Study: 'GH shows well for potential businesses'

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM

The study, conducted by Illinois-based Downtown Professionals Network, was a result of a program made possible by the Michigan Main Street program.

“They were very impressed with our community as a whole,” Grand Haven Main Street DDA Executive Director Dana Kollewehr said. “Grand Haven shows well for potential businesses.”

The survey contains information the DDA can use to help in business development and recruitment — including demographic data and what certain population groups are interested in, disposable income statistics and consumer habits.

Kollewehr said the market study is an update to an existing profile that was completed in 2007.

“We felt a lot has changed in the economy and, in 2011, Michigan Main Street offered an opportunity for an update to data in the original market study,” she said.

Kollewehr noted that the Michigan Main Street program provided the service for free. It would cost more than $8,000 if Grand Haven were to do its own study, she said.

“They shared with us some areas to expand upon,” Kollewehr said.

Areas suggested by the project include additional shoe stores, electronics stores, furniture stores, and lawn and hardware supply stores.

“They said all of their suggestions are based on data,” Kollewehr said.

Focus groups were also conducted with different sectors of the community. The groups allowed the public to have a say in what they would like to see in their town.

Kollewehr said the focus group recommendations included kitchen stores, surf shops, small grocers, and a variety of food-service establishments that could provide ethnic and different types of food.

“Those were some of the key comments from the focus group,” she said.

Kollewehr noted that those in charge of the surveys felt Grand Haven was strong in having establishments serving and selling alcohol, full-service restaurants, florists, specialty food stores, and book and periodical shops.

With this information, Kollewehr said not only could new business be drawn to the community, but existing businesses could use the data to determine areas to tap into.

As part of the service, DDA officials took part in a recruitment test to bring a mock business to Grand Haven.

“We had to treat them as a prospective business interested in relocating to the business district,” Kollewehr said.

Grand Haven scored nine out of a possible 10 points on the test — high marks, according to Kollewehr. She noted that this is one of the highest scores received in Michigan as well as in the Midwest.

Those visiting downtown Grand Haven this week said they like what is already offered to customers.

Debra Garbarino of Nunica said she visits the downtown area while exercising on the local walkways. Garbarino was visiting Fortino’s and shopping for Easter candy on Wednesday.

“I do a lot of window-shopping, because I come down and do the walking on the boardwalk and I’ll walk through,” she said.

The town also impressed people from outside the West Michigan area.

“It’s nice and everyone is so friendly,” said Diana Wroczynski, who was visiting from Illinois.

Wroczynski said she liked the mix of stores, ranging from Guitar Haven to the Great Harvest Bread Co.

“My daughter has been going up and down the street shopping — she seems quite happy,” she added.

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