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Posted: February 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

The News will live stream retail meeting tonight

Meeting to cover retail study, business opportunities

UPDATE: Just a reminder that the chamber is hosting a public meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. to go over the county's latest retail study, give the public a chance to weigh in and provide interested locals with resources to start their own business. If you can't make the meeting, The Covington News will be live streaming the meeting at CovNews.com.

“Tonight will be a roundtable discussion of what we want to see in Newton County, what we don't want to see and certainly plans, ideas and thoughts for how we get there,” newly hired retail recruiter Serra Phillips said in a Thursday email. “We will have FranChoice and several local bankers in the room to help answer questions about taking advantage of our retail opportunities.”

Original Story: The public is invited to learn more about the county’s efforts to recruit more retail stores, and those interested in starting their own business will also be given the connections to make that happen.

Dave Bernd, who’s been leading the county’s commercial recruiting efforts, is hosting a public information meeting to share the results of the county’s latest retail study and get public feedback; the meeting is at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, 2104 Washington St. SW, Covington.

Bernd will present the study — a two-page overview of which can be seen at CovNews.com — and let attendees ask questions and then engage in a brainstorming session.

"I want to get the input of everybody going forward, including the challenges and where their heads (are) at (on the issue). I want to have a good roundtable discussion," Bernd said previously.

Officials with FranChoice, a firm that helps people find franchising opportunities with companies, and representatives from multiple area banks have said they’ll attend, Bernd said.

"Everybody is liking the approach of giving local residents the opportunity — if they see the study and there are opportunities they want to participate in — to have the first choice in participating," Bernd said.

The latest retail study, developed by third-party contractor Marketek, is showing the county loses a potential $494.1 million in retail sales every year to businesses beyond its borders. That number has actually declined from studies in recent years, which estimated the county lost $750 million recently, but it shows the county still has a large void to fill.

Auto parts and dealers, general merchandise (department stores), apparel and accessories, restaurants and electronics, and appliances were the biggest areas of need, according to the study. For more on the study, read the article "Newton County has big retail plans" at CovNews.com.

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