Patrick Hoban dedicated to develop Decatur retail business
Each day 21,000 people come from outside of Decatur to work, but now it's one man's job to keep these people around and bring business to the city. This is the first time Decatur has someone just focusing on retail business development.
Patrick Hoban has had his seat with the city for not even two months but he's ready to attract, retain and expand Decatur's retail business. Hoban explained how the city could start seeing changes almost immediately.
"I'm here to develop every shopping center that we have," Hoban said.
The 34 year old was born and raised in Decatur. His job is to improve the city's quality of life and generate retail sales revenue, which has been flat over the past several years.
"We thought it was important and the city council thought it was especially important to bring in a person that was dedicated to that effort specifically," explained Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus.
The key was identifying retail gaps.
"We're going to try to figure out what the supply is, what we currently have, then we're going to try to figure out what the demand is, where current Decatur residents spend their money," Hoban explained.
Research showed Decatur was lacking in furniture, hardware, clothing and sporting good stores. But what it's always had, niche shops like Raupp's Shoes and Del's Popcorn Shop that have been around for years.
"It is the tradition," Penny Skidmore said with Del's. "It is the tradition among families from the great grand parents to the grandparents to the parents to the kids who are making it tradition with their children now."
Hoban wants to maintain that tradition while potentially adding new ones.
"The goal is not going to be to bring in any direct competition who's currently here," he said. "My job is to help them expand if possible, increase their business."
Because it's not out with the old, it's just in with the new.
Hoban has already given some site tours of vacant lots. And starting next year, once a month, he'll have feedback tours. Hoban will invite the public to tell him what they want and he'll use their feedback to help him determine which businesses to bring in.
IloveDecatur.com is a new website. The project was led by Hoban and it just launched Wednesday. It's a way for business owners to use social media to attract customers and residents to spread the word about what's happening in the area.
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