Mayor, Natchez Inc. hope to recruit more retail

Published 12:07 am Monday, August 14, 2017

NATCHEZ — Natchez Inc. and city leaders are working on a plan to potentially expand the retail options in the community.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said Natchez has potential to attract retail business, if only the city or Natchez Inc. were to actively recruit it.

“I know they are not considered to be industrial, but when we look at the retail community collectively, it is an industry that is providing jobs to local people,” Grennell said. “It is just as important that we make sure we work with our existing retail community so we can make sure stores don’t close.

Email newsletter signup

“This would supply jobs and also helps enhance the tax base.”

Natchez gets tourists year round, Grennell said, and one thing he hears is they would like to see more restaurant options. Grennell said locals also request restaurants.

“I get so many requests for a Golden Corral,” Grennell said. “I contacted them and asked if they would come here and do a study to see if it was feasible for one of their buffets to be located in Natchez. They are supposed to be coming in and checking to see if it is feasible.”

Grennell said he would love to be able to recruit retail for Natchez, but his schedule does not permit calling every prospective company. Grennell said he would look into providing more money to Natchez Inc. to help them hire a person to expand into recruiting retail.

“Or it may be that the city needs to hire a person to help us recruit in terms of retail, not only recruit but work with local businesses, to make sure they are sustained here,” Grennell said.

Natchez Inc. Director Chandler Russ said the board of directors of Natchez Inc. is exploring partnering with the city to recruit more retail.

“We have some retail activities that we do already, but we are working to expand our retail footprint,” Russ said. “The continuing discussions regard how it might look, how best to proceed.”

Russ said he did not foresee Natchez Inc. promoting commercial property, but that they could potentially help drive clients and customers to the properties.

As for the focus, Russ said it could be downtown or a mix of the community.

“We are looking at all of those possibilities right now,” Russ said. “The discussions are in the early stages right now.”

Russ said he believes another person would be required to effectively and efficiently promote retail and downtown.

Though he said the retail space was tough right now with companies such as Amazon growing at the expense of physical stores, Russ said he looked forward to the discussions continuing.

“I definitely believe that we can bring some organization to the effort and hopefully generate some additional sales tax and help bring some of the dark spaces back in working order,” Russ said. “That is the ultimate goal — putting some people in the buildings that are vacant now.”