On Tacos and Shopping Local

hotsauceI would like to take credit for the new Taco Bell.

I would like to because I have this mental image that high schoolers everywhere have been celebrating my name  – thinking that I have single handedly delivered a Taco Bell. I would like to say I alone can make that happen. But I can’t.

Development just doesn’t work that way. Not in Frankenmuth and not in any other community. If and when a development comes to town (especially when it is an established brand, etc.) they have stacks of research and demographic data compiled before they ever ring our bell. Before they ever step foot into the City they know the spending habits of our residents and visitors, the number of employees within the City, the disposable income of our residents, and detailed habits of everyone living within 10 miles drive time. And when I say detailed I mean there are assumptions of the TV programs you watch, what you do with your free time and what kind of car you drive.

There are a couple of important points to keep in mind with this information. First, spending and demographic data really do drive development. It’s what draws the attention of established businesses and its what entrepreneurs need to demonstrate to have a solid business plan. In my former life I used to take a lot of calls from residents who were angry that we were getting another Chinese restaurant – don’t I know that what we really needed was a good Italian place? Cities don’t have the luxury or ability to pick and choose. Our zoning rules dictate the uses that can develop on certain properties. That’s why sometimes you will see a Walgreen’s and a Rite Aid directly across the street from each other. It’s not because the town thought it would be a good idea – it’s because Walgreen’s thought it was a good idea. There is a definite sense of capitalism and property rights at work too when it comes to development.

So what’s the message? If you want to find a local place to buy men’s socks, make sure you are shopping in Frankenmuth for as many of your clothing needs as possible. If you want more organic items sold in town, buy organic here and don’t drive to Whole Foods. The only way to fill those local needs is to demonstrate that there is a demand for it. And that means we need to shop here first.

Want to share the kind of development you think Frankenmuth needs the most? Let me know.

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