The quest for a grocer continues

The Vinton County Commissioners have signed a $6,000 agreement with the Boston-based ARC Advisory Group to perform a grocery store marketing feasibility study. According to Commissioner Jerry Zinn, the company answered a request for qualifications inquiry the county put out and now has signed a contract with the commissioners.

Zinn stated the study will hopefully answer many questions and provide solid numbers.

“We want to make sure we have the best available numbers to present to a possible operator,” said Zinn.

The company is offering several services and, according to their website, offers many comprehensive business solutions in a professional way. The services they list in a marketing study are: Market size numbers help determine product development decisions and set sales goals; Vertical industry breakdowns for planning marketing and sales programs; Growth rate projections for revenue projections and business plans; and Executive summaries of current and emerging technologies while also providing insight to market dynamics.

Zinn explained the county has already gotten one free marketing study from a large North Carolina-based grocery marketing group, and the numbers appear to be better than expected. The county made the connection to the company through the efforts of Monroe County, W.Va. Commissioner Shane Ashley who ran an IGA for many years.

While the commissioners assert the survey was good, no one from that company physically came to the county. It was more of a computer-based demographic study. This time around, an ARC representative will be coming to the county and doing a lot of ground work. The study will also determine the best site for a store.

Both the previous study and potential operators the county has dealt with so far point to the planned Cherry Lane Business site in west McArthur as the best location. Recently, the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College announced they want to build a branch in McArthur in the development. So, the study will either cement this view or point to another location in the village where a store can do well.

Zinn stated the numbers also will be important to the Ohio Food Financing Fund as it evaluates applicants for the $700,000 grant it has to offer an operator in Vinton County. The county can also offer an operator help from the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission and South Central Job and Family Services which can help with labor costs up to one year.

The commissioners are also exploring a total package including buying land and possibly building a complete store, but not one that is a turnkey or stocked. If this option is chosen, the county must have a long-term lease in place with an operator because they can access funding to buy land and build a store.

Zinn again stressed this marketing study is a key component to the ongoing process as the commissioners are continuing their efforts.

From The Telegram