The longstanding question of whether LaGrange will ever get a Target might be ever-closer to an answer.
Chuck Branch, CEO of Decision Data Resources and a partner in Retail Strategies LLC, presented the results of his company’s study of the area to the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting Thursday.
Branch says his company, commissioned for the study in 2011 by local governments and development groups, surveyed members of the community as part of its research.
“Target did come up on several surveys,” he said, and landing one here is not totally out of the question.
“Target actually is looking at locating smaller versions of its big-box stores at places around the country,” he said.
The company could eventually come to LaGrange, along with a number of other retailers that Branch and his partners say there is a “gap” of in this area.
Phase one of the plan, now that the study is complete, is to locate a grocery store somewhere in the area between LaGrange and West Point, which Branch says is one of the biggest gaps to fill. Much of the property around the Kia Motors plant was annexed into West Point and zoned for commercial use before the economy turned sour. Branch said things are starting to pick up along that corridor and other commercial clients now are looking at the zone along with the grocery store.
For members of the chamber, Branch went over some of his study results Thursday, which will be updated about every six months as conditions change.
Branch said along with recruiting new business to the area, part of the plan will focus on helping existing businesses expand their own opportunities and help local entrepreneurs with their own ventures. The retail recruitment plan will help identify businesses that can fill gaps for needed services.
Branch and his associates collected data from the area on demographics, from incomes and ethnic backgrounds to who is spending money to buying certain items. For example, more than 11,000 people bought a mattress in this area last year, and the majority of people here — about 60 percent — buy clothing based on comfort. Just more than 6 percent buy clothing to keep up with the latest style.
Complete results of the survey and study results will soon be available on the chamber’s website, www.lagrangechamber.com.
Also Thursday, the chamber presented its annual awards, including a new award honoring Ida Tarver Jones, a longtime chamber volunteer. Jones died Jan. 4. The Ida Tarver Jones award will honor a volunteer each year. Jake Behr received the first award. Behr attended 90 percent of the ribbon cuttings, business after hours and other special events and make 153 retention calls to current chamber members.
Renae Willis, chairman of the chamber’s excellence in education committee, was presented with the Jane Fryer award, named for the former chamber president.
“I can’t think of a better honor to have,” Willis said. “Jane has been a mentor and guiding force in our community.”