City Council agrees: Brookings needs more retailers

Zach Nebben

Zach Nebben

The Brookings City Council gathered on March 14 to discuss future options to expand the Brookings community.

A recent purchase of 26 acres east of Interstate 29, totaling roughly $4 million, has been made for the development of the retail industry.

Some council members agree that Brookings is lacking in retail and that expanding the choices available for shopping is a necessity to the city.

The two areas being focused on are clothing and restaurants, said Councilman Tim Reed. Increasing the number of options for consumers to attain their goods would attract people from surrounding areas and help the city of Brookings to grow.

Councilman Mike Bartley said that there are currently two areas of proposed development: the land east of Interstate 29 and downtown Brookings. The city is still searching for a third site for expansion.

One option proposed to the council to help develop Brookings is hiring an outside firm to gather information and assess the city.

Buxton, a company based in Texas, specializes in consumer analytics and retail site selection. The company already outlined a proposal for analyzing Brookings to determine which businesses would be most sustainable in the community. The analysis will cost $36,000.

Bartley said that using Buxton’s services would provide useful information that cannot be attained elsewhere. City Manager Alan Lanning contacted the people in Sioux Falls who have used Buxton’s services in the past. The Sioux Falls group claimed that the company has been very helpful and worth the money that was spent.

Reed said bringing Buxton in is a good thing, but he is afraid that making the company’s findings public would have a “free-rider” effect in which surrounding communities would use the information paid for by Brookings for their own benefit.

Bartley disagrees. He said, “Information provided by the company is site specific and would prove irrelevant to nearby areas.”

Tom Bezdichek said bringing the company in for research may be a waste of money, he said. Brookings recently spent more than $3.3 million to bring home-improvement store Lowe’s into the community.

Bezdichek says reports show that business opportunities typically present themselves after Lowe’s enters a new city, rendering the proposed research unnecessary.

He added that the city is responsible for building the infrastructure, such as roads, water and power lines that would allow new businesses to come into town and is not responsible for conducting the market research to decide which businesses should come.

Geoffrey Grant, an SDSU professor, conducts a class on urban sociology. He said he agrees that expanding the retail selection in Brookings is a positive thing. He said Brookings has lost a considerable number of stores throughout the years, possibly due to the addition of Wal-Mart. The community stands to benefit from added shopping opportunities.

Some students around campus feel that expanding Brookings’ retail industry would prove a positive move.

Jack Nicholson, a senior in business economics, said that Brookings is lacking in selection and an increase in the number of stores would provide a higher quality product than can be found in other local choices.

Jordan Bauer, a third-year SDSU student, said an increase in businesses would provide job opportunities for students.

Bauer spent last summer working in the Minneapolis area and said, “Coming back to Brookings was a real change. The convenience is gone and you either have to settle for what is available, or travel to another city to find what you are looking for.”

The City Council plans to meet again to discuss further options for expansion.