students launch retail study
of downtown Carrollton shoppers
to be presented to public in December
Helen E. McKinney
CARROLLTON, Ky. (November 2004) Economic development
and growth is vital to every downtown area, whether it be a heavily
populated city or a small rural town. Economy helps the area survive
and determines what types of businesses an area will maintain.
by Don Ward
Carrollton has been chosen as the subject of a downtown
retail market survey. The targeted site encompasses a 21-block area
running from the Kentucky River east to Seventh Street, and from the
Ohio River south to Sycamore Street.
A group of nine Northern Kentucky University students are studying market
trends, demographics, and what kind of businesses people think need
to be downtown for the downtown area to survive, said Sam Burgess,
Carrolltons Main Street Program Director.
These students are all senior marketing students under the direction
of Dr. Aaron Levin, assistant professor of marketing at NKU. This is
the second marketing research class they have taken, said Levin, and
from October to December they will evaluate Carrolltons downtown
The city became a member of the Kentucky Heritage Council Main Street
Program and Renaissance Kentucky in 1998. A market survey is required
to be completed at some point in the membership.
The goal of Renaissance Kentucky is to assist communities with downtown
revitalization efforts. It also seeks to unite communities and the resources
needed to accomplish this goal. Renaissance Kentucky is designed to
enhance and coordinate existing efforts.
There are a number of concerns on the revitalization of the historic
downtown areas. It is such concerns that this class project will address.
If a private individual were paid to complete this retail market survey,
it would be costly, said Burgess. The city of Versailles, Ky., recently
had this done for a price of $12,000, but Carrolltons assessment
will be done for free.
Students will conduct surveys with the general public and local business
merchants. A random sampling of 350 attendees of the Two Rivers Tobacco
Festival was taken between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. Participants were asked
to complete a written survey, and screener questions were included to
ensure the participants lived in or near Carrollton, said Levin.
Kathy Watts, owner of The Craft Patch, is a downtown merchant who completed
a survey for this project. Since the downtown area is a historic district,
Watts thinks it could draw more consumers to complement the programs
and facilities offered at Gen. Butler State Resort Park. She would like
to see Carrollton draw the kind of business you would find in
tourist towns like Brown County, Ind.
To begin this project, students designed a survey that decides whether
the area should keep existing business in downtown Carrollton, how new
businesses would fit in, and how to grow and improve the area, Levin
said. Data will be compiled into a report, constructing data tables.
A Powerpoint presentation will be presented to Burgess and any interested
parties in the community, such as the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce,
the Carroll County Community Development Corp. and Main Street Program
members. An electronic copy of the presentation will also be available
for those who cannot attend the presentation.
Burgess said he hopes the survey will be useful in developing a business
recruitment and retention plan to draw new business downtown. Interested
businesses need to know before moving to the area if there will be a
marketing niche they can fill. If the need is proven, they will be more
confident in moving to the area, said Burgess.
Theres not enough variety to draw people downtown, said Watts.
She said the types of businesses needed are food service, gift shops
and antique stores.
A previous survey was completed one year before Carrollton became a
member of Renaissance Kentucky. But it was not geared for what has since
become the Renaissance area.
Levin said students will uncover reasons to explain how often people
go to the downtown area, their reasoning for going, the types of stores
they visit, what type of advertising draws people there and the overall
image of the area.
Anything that can encourage new businesses to open is a positive,
said Watts. She hopes enough interest will be generated to bring more
economy to the downtown area.
Carrollton chose us, Levin said, and were really
excited. He said his classes are known in the Marketing Department
at NKU for doing this type of research for nonprofit organizations and
businesses. His classes have completed the same type of project for
The most important thing students garner from this semester project
is the opportunity to work with an actual client. This is a more effective
learning tool than taking an exam or writing a research paper, he said.
Students learn first-hand the needs of their clients, while hopefully
solving the problem, or at least moving in that direction, said
Levin. They will come to understand the strengths and weaknesses of
Carrollton in terms of Renaissance Kentucky.
For more information on the survey, contact Burgess at (502)
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