Market Study proposes
tools for expanding, improving
Jefferson County economy
MADISON, Ind. (Sept. 2002) John Bohman and his
brother, Joe, have operated Pride Supermarket in Hanover, Ind., for
the past 15 years. It hasnt always been easy keeping the doors
open, but theyve persevered while other businesses have not.
In the mid-1990s, the Bohmans weathered the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter
10 miles away in Madison. Theyve endured competition from a Dollar
General Store that opened two years ago just up the road. Theyve
seen their lunch crowd dwindle with the recent opening of a McDonalds
restaurant, a Fast Lane BP convenience store, Chicagos Pizza and
Subway Sandwich Shop the latter two located just across the street.
In each case, the Bohmans have adapted by finding new
ways to serve the communitys grocery needs and still make a profit.
But for how long?
What we need is a big industrial-type business to come into Hanover
and provide more jobs, then we will have more people moving here,
John Bohman said. When people live locally, they shop locally.
And it would mean more growth, creating a bigger tax base for the community.
Bohman isnt optimistic that will happen anytime soon. But hes
keeping a cautious eye on a recently released Retail Market Study of
Jefferson County that examines the current inventory of goods and services,
and projects what types of retail stores are needed to keep residents
The $30,000, year-long study, chaired by Madison City Council president
Jim Lee, was commissioned by the Collaborative Marketing Project of
Jefferson County and conducted by an Atlanta-based consulting firm,
Marketek. Half the cost was paid for by the state Commerce Departments
Community Planning Fund; the rest came from the Lilly Endowment and
Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp.
The consultants surveyed more than 3,000 people in the county before
compiling a 176-page report, including recommendations, which they presented
in late June at a community forum at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Like most local merchants, Bohman is aware of the study but knows very
little about its purpose or whats in it. And like most local merchants,
he missed the forum and knows only what he read in newspaper reports
Ive heard that the report refers to Hanover as a bedroom
community of Madison, and I wasnt real thrilled with that description,
Dennis and Estelle Anderson, who moved from Texas to Madison two years
ago and opened Cover to Cover Bookstore on Main Street, say they, too,
have heard about the study but know little about it. They say their
business has done well, but they feel isolated from tourism and chamber
activities and have begun communicating more with other downtown merchants
to explore ways to strengthen their visibility with tourists and local
Anderson sees the Madison Business and Professional Association as perhaps
the best hope of getting more business owners involved in efforts to
generate more traffic downtown.
I havent seen the results of the study, but I heard there
was a comment made about Madison needing a book store, Anderson
said. Well, weve been here two years now, and we still have
trouble getting people on the hilltop to come downtown to shop. Whats
it going to take?
The Andersons say they would welcome the opportunity to learn more about
the study and its potential impact. We are interested in whats
going to be done about it and by whom and when and does it include
a vision for the future
The Collaborative Marketing Project began in 1999 as a community approach
to dealing with a variety of issues facing the county. It has drawn
representatives from city and county government and 66 commercial, educational
and nonprofit organizations. The Retail Market Study was only one of
many efforts conducted by the project, which is funded by both public
grants and private donations. Other efforts have involved tourism, historic
preservation and economic development, to name a few.
After three years of monthly meetings and committee work sessions, the
project is winding down. But project coordinator Ann Grahn says the
work will continue to implement the new ideas that have resulted.
This is an ongoing thing; it doesnt stop here, said
Grahn, a native of Bryn Mawr, Pa., who retired to Madison in 1987 with
her husband, Doug, after a long career as a scientist in Washington,
D.C., and later Chicago.
Since her arrival in Madison, Grahn has become involved in several local
organizations, eventually becoming the first director of the Community
Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County. She left that position in
1996 to head marketing efforts for the Madison-Jefferson County Industrial
Development Corp. In that capacity, she organized the Collaborative
Marketing Project. In January 2000, her efforts earned her the prestigious
Community Service Award, presented by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.
In what has been hailed as the first-of-its-kind analysis, the Retail
Market Study was presented to more than 100 people, including state
agricultural officials, by Marketek researchers, Mary Bosch of Portland,
Ore., and Eleanor Matthews of Atlanta.
The purpose of the study is to help guide economic development
in our county and improve our quality of life, Grahn told the
group by way of introduction that night. She said the project really
began three years ago and has received unprecedented cooperation.
Some residents were surprised, or even angered, by the blunt descriptions
of their community. Others listened intently. Some questioned how certain
data was gathered or how it fits in with other factors that are driving
the areas economic development.
The consultants described the study results as an opportunity
for local residents to help shape the future of their community. The
overall goal is to strengthen your commercial retail base, Bosch
told the group. Selling your community is 99 percent of the work
you have ahead of you.
The study parameters were set as 25 miles from Madison that would be
termed the countys trade area. More than 3,000 surveys
were completed by local residents and business owners. They were asked
about the perceptions, needs and motivations of local shoppers, businesses
and farmers. The goal was to identify the stores and services most desired
and needed in the county, and identify the factors that shoppers consider
important in deciding where to shop.
The study attempts to indicate the amount and types of new retail space
the county could support over the next decade. It recommends strategies
for retail development, alternative agricultural solutions for tobacco
farmers facing cutbacks, and how to address dollar leakage
out of the county, that is, shoppers going elsewhere to shop.
Specifically, the study examined four separate shopping areas
Clifty Drive (hilltop Madison), downtown Madison, Hanover and the county
at large (including agri-business). In each case, researchers were looking
for opportunities for future retail development. They prefaced the presentation
by citing national trends toward the development of mixed-use residential-retail
pods. Such pods provide for easy access to commercial centers
via sidewalks or bicycle paths. Such developments also include elements
of beautification and a community focal point. Some of their conclusions
are as follows:
Madison: Seasonal survival
The downtown continues to battle storefront vacancies, with 13 first-floor
vacancies reported in mid-summer, Bosch said. The survey also showed
a need for longer store hours and cited the potential for second story
residential space. Parking is also an issue, both for tourists and residents.
The downtown is a quaint, historic, riverfront mixed-use district
that emphasizes specialty shopping and entertainment, Bosch said.
A strong historic preservation organization will ensure the protection
of historic resources, but the keys to success include enhancing pedestrian-friendly
shopping and making use of upper story space.
An aggressive marketing program is necessary to keep the area
vibrant, Bosch said. She added that some tired downtown
stores may need to upgrade and improve selection.
Marketek researchers say shoppers like to shop where there is critical
mass, that is, many stores in one place. But they found the boulevard
known as Clifty Drive to be mundane.
There is nothing unique about the hilltop commercial strip. It
looks like any other strip, Bosch said. You have this long,
commercial strip surrounded by residential neighborhoods with absolutely
no connection with pedestrians or bicycles.
Bosch noted the new highway being built between Clifty Drive and Hutchinson
Lane. She suggested that such road projects present the community with
an opportunity to improve on what it already has.
You need to concentrate on nodes of development and ask yourself,
Wheres the focal point? Clifty Drive doesnt
have one as it is now.
Theres no there there.
Hanover, according to the researchers, is a bedroom community that suffers
from one central problem theres no core; no physical part
of the town serves as its central focal point. Theres no
there there, Bosch said.
In other words, motorists driving through town on Hwy. 56 arent
sure when theyve arrived or when theyve left. Bosch suggested
that town officials develop a plan to establish some critical mass,
from a retail standpoint.
The research suggested that the Hanover College student population was
underserved by the goods and services available in Hanover. But they
also suggested that Hanover not spread out any more than it is. One
suggestion was for Hanover to revive its old town on Main
Street into a small commercial center to serve the student population
and possibly emerge as the citys focal point. It is located within
walking distance of campus.
If youre going to be a bedroom community, then be the best
bedroom community you can be, Bosch said. And try to work
pedestrians into it.
Jefferson County: Slow population growth.
Bosch said business investors in retail wont locate where there
is no population growth or substantial traffic. Jefferson County has
a low population growth. In fact, the recent U.S. Census showed a net
increase of only 10 people over the past decade.
Some attribute the slow growth to the countys distance from interstates.
Bosch also cited the attraction to some residents of that isolation,
thereby maintaining the quaintness of the community. However, she added,
There are lots of free standing retail, but no business clusters.
Any further retail growth will be tied to population growth.
Perhaps one positive sign is the recent announcement of a Lowes
Home Improvement Center coming to Ivy Tech Drive next to Wal-Mart. Other
businesses have also recently located in the immediate area, including
a Bridgepointe Goodwill, Fantastic Sams, Today Rentals, Yahama
dealer and credit union.
Reaction to the study has been mixed, but committee members are hoping
it serves as the starting point for community-wide action. At the conclusion
of the Marketek presentation, Lee delivered a rousing pep talk to those
hearing the results for the first time. He urged people to get involved
and become catalysts for change.
Lee said some people were offended by the consultants description
of Clifty Drive as mundane. But he said such reaction is
part of the process.
Its nice that some people were offended because they were
offended in a good sort of way, he said. Youve got
to come to realize that our countys livelihood is at risk. So
I liked their use of mundane, and I hope it gets them thinking
about what can be done.
Don Phillips used to farm 300 acres and operate a dairy before giving
up farming in 1996 to become a securities broker for Hilliard-Lyons.
He views the failure to preserve farmland as inevitable, saying, I
dont have a bright outlook for the survival of agriculture in
Phillips attended the Marketek presentation but came away unimpressed.
I was a little disappointed there wasnt something new for
me. I was hoping to find some surprises.
Nevertheless, Phillips termed the effort as positive because how
do you know where to go if you dont know where you are?
River Valley Financial Bank president Matt Forrester said he had mixed
emotions about the study results, especially since his newly expanded
bank headquarters sits along the mundane Clifty Drive. Every
business along here has worked hard to make it as safe a corridor as
possible. He added that the biggest plus he sees is that the
effort has everybody talking to each other.
Hanover Town Council president Margaret Seifert took in stride the commentary
about her coreless town. Im afraid its
true, she said.
As a member of the projects steering committee, she hopes to mobilize
support among her town leaders to do something about it. She said several
business owners are considering starting a merchants group to deal with
the absence of businesses that Hanover College students need. We
need more of everything there, Seifert said.
Wendy Dant Chesser, executive director of the Indiana Rural Development
Corp., attended the Marketek presentation and called it a good first
step. She works closely with the states agriculture department
and said officials there would be watching the outcome of the effort.
I think what the county is doing is taking its future into its
own hands and not waiting for retail or residential needs to drive it,
Chesser said. I was really glad to see the attempt to incorporate
agriculture and to recognize that our farmers had something to offer
in the process.
Chesser added that any significant decisions should be made with the
countys long-range economic development plans in mind. Growth
will happen; you can either play a part or let the market dictate what
happens, and then nobody has control.
Grahn and Lee believe the study represents a proactive approach to managing
growth and developing a stronger retail base to curtail market leakage.
They say the more people who get involved the better. Grahn views the
study as a tool for others to use as they become involved in shaping
this collaborative vision for Jefferson County and
not just on issues relating to retail market space.
Before moving ahead, Grahn is hoping local residents will learn more
about the study results. It has been posted in its entirety and in a
downloadable form on the community website: www.madisonindiana.org.
. The focus of the Retail Market Study committee is now on how to implement
some of the findings of the study, according to Lee. The most
important element that we all agree on is what takes place after the
study and to not leave it on the vine. This is not something we want
to put away in a drawer and forget about.
Bosch said the critical issue is whether county residents are willing
to change or are open to change.
Already, the Collaborative Marketing Project has produced a new marketing
campaign that has been coordinated among various agencies, including
tourism. The same theme and designs have been used in this years
tourism booklet, a new Walking Tour Guide of Madison, a soon-to-be-published
Heritage Booklet, and interpretive and directional signage in Madison.
It has helped with new road signs being erected at the main entry points
into the city. Grant money from the project has helped to stage new
events, such as the Madison Area Chamber of Commerces inaugural
Regional Business Expo and the Great Event, a community welcome day
for new residents and Hanover College incoming freshmen.
The project also helped fund websites for nonprofit groups, a shared
traveling exhibit, training programs for agricultural entrepreneurialship,
advertising, skill-enhancement and new logo design all efforts
to bring the county together to market itself with most efficient use
Regarding the retail economy, Grahn said the study represents only the
beginning. The work will continue and our cooperation will continue.
We dont have the luxury of isolating ourselves from one another.
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