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Steve Stroud

State of the City 2018

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Roswell’s Economic Development Forecast

by Steve Stroud

Executive Director Steve Stroud

My favorite part about the start of a new year is the chance it gives us to reflect on all that’s been accomplished the past 12 months and look forward to what’s ahead in the coming year.

By the Numbers
In 2017, Roswell Inc worked to support 82 business attraction and recruitment projects, 40 retention projects, 66 expansion projects, 44 ribbon cuttings, 13 new opportunity zone certifications, and 165 one-on-one meetings with local businesses.

New Business Class Hotels
Last spring, we released the key findings from a hotel feasibility study we commissioned, which confirmed what our team knew anecdotally – that we desperately needed to increase the number of quality hotel options in Roswell or we would continue losing business travelers, and city revenue, to our neighboring cities.

Those findings helped us secure two hotel deals off Westside Parkway—a Home 2 Suites by Hilton and a Springhill Suites by Marriott—that we had been involved with for two years. Both projects are set to break ground in 2018. This also helped us secure interest from a third hotel, which is currently going through the approval process at city hall.

Large Recruitment Projects
Three of the most exciting projects we welcomed to Roswell last year include Delta Dental’s expansion in Sanctuary Park, which brings 200 new jobs; Kamstrup’s new North American headquarters off Hembree Road, which brings 52 new jobs; and Fuqua Development’s mixed-use project on the corner of Highway 9 and Sun Valley, which brings 400 new jobs, 300 multifamily units, a much-needed grocery store in the area, and walkability to the city’s largest employer—GM Innovation Center.

Breweries & Craft Beer
Five years ago, Roswell Inc took more than 60 community leaders to Asheville, North Carolina, to learn about its highly-acclaimed brewery industry. This group included elected officials, city staff, and local Roswell business owners and civic leaders.

Upon our return, we worked hand-in-hand with our elected officials and city staff to create Roswell’s first microbrewery ordinance, which allowed Gate City Brewing Company and Abbey of the Holy Goats to open in 2015. This past November, both Variant Brewing Company and From The Earth Brewing Company opened their doors, which now brings our total to four.

After the City of Atlanta, we are now tied for 2nd with Decatur and Savannah for having the highest number of breweries in the entire state of Georgia.

A Look Ahead to 2018
To build on our city’s economic success, we will focus on three key areas in 2018.

First, we will actively pursue an innovation and coworking space to support our entreprenuers. In 2017, we visited several in the region and began discussions with stakeholders, and we are now ready to pull together a team to make this happen in Roswell.

Second, we will continue adapting to the changing retail market through our partnership with NextSite, a leading retail research firm, that will allow us to pull and analyze data about retail trends and shopping patterns and use those to help current businesses and shopping centers as well as proactively recruit the right projects for Roswell.

Third, we will continue to focus on the craft beer, wine and spirits industry. In 2018, we will see Roswell’s first meadery, which is a winery for wine made from honey. By 2019, we are confident we will welcome Roswell’s first distillery. And, of course, we will continue to focus on growing the brewery and craft beer scene. Our goal is to solidify Roswell’s position as one of the top destinations in the state for this emerging industry by 2020.

Check out Mayor Lori Henry’s presentation below along with a photo gallery from the event.

Thank You (And some great news!)

By | The Inc Blog | No Comments

stroud_headshot-1Most of you have heard me say, “It’s always a great day to do business in Roswell” – and that statement rings even more true today.

We are thrilled to share that – at last night’s city council meeting – Mayor and Council approved (4-3) our organization’s full funding request. We are grateful for this vote and for the opportunity to continue building upon our work in the coming year.

However, what’s really on my mind more than anything this morning is the overwhelming gratitude I feel for each and every one of you. All of us at Roswell Inc were completely blown away by the amount of support we’ve received over the past couple weeks.

Thank you for writing letters. Thank you for speaking on our behalf. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for rallying in support of a stronger business community.

Your kind words and stories of how we’ve impacted your business have been wonderful and powerful to hear. They have reminded us why we do what we do – and they’ve left us feeling reinvigorated with a stronger and even deeper sense of purpose and passion.

But more than that, your words have left us humbled.

We feel honored that we get to wake up every day and work toward our vision of making Roswell the best place in the region for innovative and community-minded businesses and entrepreneurs.

That’s what drives all of us at Roswell Inc – helping business owners like you succeed.

So, from all of us at Roswell Inc, thank you. We are excited for what’s ahead in the coming year!

Study Indicates Strong Demand for Hotel on Historic Town Square

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Steve Stroud

Steve Stroud

Executive Director

Earlier this month, we released the results of a hotel feasibility study we commissioned for our city, which served to confirm what all of us who live and work in Roswell have known for quite some time – that our community needs to increase our city’s quality hotel options for both business and tourism travelers alike.

Back in the fall of 2016, we hired Atlanta-based hotel consulting firm The Highland Group to conduct the study for us. Over several months, the group completed site analysis throughout the city, interviews with competitive hotels (both in Roswell and in neighboring cities), analysis of competitive hotel data, and interviews with some of our community’s key stakeholders. These included our city’s largest employers, which supply the largest amount of business travelers to our area.

The study concluded there is strong demand in Roswell for a business-friendly hotel in the Historic District. The report recommends a 90-room hotel be developed as part of a new mixed use development on the property adjacent to Founders Square, where Haigwood Studios is located, that would also contain retail, residential and office space.

Below are some of the key findings from the study:

  • Business travelers are the primary source of demand at the best quality hotels in Roswell, and there is a very limited supply of acceptable options.
  • Doubletree is the market leader in Roswell. When it’s full, business visitors usually choose to stay in Alpharetta rather than in other hotels in Roswell.
  • Because business travelers consistently stay in neighboring cities, Roswell is losing tax revenue to neighboring cities that would otherwise be collected by the city.
  • Corporate demand in Roswell is projected to increase by an annual average rate of 4.2 percent from 2016 to 2023, reflecting the proposed hotel supply expansion.
  • Neighboring cities are increasing hotel options, including six hotels proposed or under construction in Alpharetta.

We believe adding a hotel to this area is essential to the health of our city’s business community and our overall economic competitiveness, which is why the effort is one of our priorities at Roswell Inc.

In addition to supporting our economic strength, we also know its location will help meet the high demand we have from tourism. In particular, this location would be a convenient option for those staying in our city for weddings, with its proximity to numerous event and wedding venues in the Historic District.

“Visitors often ask us where they can stay in the Historic District and are disappointed when we tell them there isn’t a hotel within walking distance to the square,” said Dotty Etris, executive director of Visit Roswell GA, the city’s tourism program. “We believe getting a hotel in this area is incredibly important to the future of both tourism and economic development in Roswell.”

Our next steps at Roswell Inc include taking this data and working in partnership with local developers, property owners and hotel operators to attract the right project for this area.

Read this piece on the Alpharetta-Roswell Herald.

A Response to East Roswell Economic Development Discussions

By | The Inc Blog | No Comments

roswell_inc-266With the recent closings of Target, Kohl’s, Rack Room Shoes and a variety of other retailers in Roswell, we know there is growing concern over the future of retail and overall economic development in the city, with a particular concern for East Roswell.

As a longtime Roswell resident and 30-year business entrepreneur in this city, I am likewise disappointed by these recent announcements. However, I also find myself excited by the opportunity this creates for us to cast vision for what East Roswell could become in the future.

As many of you know, what’s happening to retail in Roswell is not isolated to our city – it’s happening across the nation. The demand for traditional retail is decreasing rapidly, as the market for online shopping continues to grow. This, alongside the continued trend toward mixed-used development, has become a major game-changer.

This shift in consumer behavior has been causing waves in the industry for several years and is set to completely transform the way retail looks 5 to 10 years from now. It’s also caused major retailers, from Target to Macy’s to Walgreens, to completely rethink their business models. While stores that can’t sustain a profit are closing, CEOs are brainstorming ways for their companies to adapt to the new environment and changing consumer.

People often ask me if that means traditional brick-and-mortar shops will become a thing of the past.

The overwhelming majority of industry experts say no.

However, there is a growing understanding that to remain competitive in the new retail environment, stores and shopping districts will need to offer something consumers can’t get on their phones – a shopping experience.

Consumers are increasingly desiring experience-driven shopping areas like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market in Atlanta and the downtown areas in Woodstock and Lawrenceville. These destination retail concepts are what most industry leaders forecast as the future for non-online retail.

How does Roswell adapt?

Last month, Roswell Inc was invited to participate in two public forums about the future of economic development along the Holcomb Bridge Road Corridor. The discussions at each focused on trends in commercial development and retail and also started conversations between city leaders and the community about how we can work together to respond to the changing market.

At Roswell Inc, our core mission is to ensure a strong, competitive economic and business climate for the City of Roswell. We do that through keeping up with market trends; working in partnership with business owners, entrepreneurs, city leaders, residents and property developers; and keeping a pulse on what’s happening in the community.

As these discussions continue in the coming months, our commitment to each of you is that we will continue to work diligently as a leader and catalyst for smart economic development that aligns with both the culture and character of Roswell and the demands of the market.

What does that look like?

Currently, our Roswell Inc team is finalizing the details to begin a comprehensive retail study for Roswell. This will focus on the needs for the city as a whole as well as help us develop a plan for the distinct, unique retail needs and opportunities for each part of our community.

We are also working closely with city staff on a proposal to begin a study along Holcomb Bridge Road, east of GA 400. This will help map out future redevelopment in East Roswell and identify what types of projects make sense for the community and the market. It will also work in tandem with the Highway 9 study.

-As both these projects progress, there will be opportunities for public input along the way – whether through surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, etc. Your voice is an important part of this process, and we encourage you to stay involved.