City to consider contract with retail recruiter

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, March 12, 2015

Elizabethton’s City Council will be asked to consider a contract with a retail recruitment company to possibly bring in new retailers to the city.

The agreement with Retail Strategies, based out of Birmingham, Ala., would cost the city a total of $80,000 with the amount spread out over three years. The first year would require $40,000, $24,000 would be due the second year and $20,000 in the third year.

For the past two years, the city’s Planning and Development Department has budgeted $20,000 for the contract with the intention of partnering with the county or Carter County Tomorrow to help cover the cost, Planning Director Jon Hartman said. Retail Strategies informed the city the cost would increase if it was not “locked in” with an agreement.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We estimate if one medium-sized or two smaller-sized retailers were recruited, the cost would break even in a five-year period,” Hartman said. “After two years and due to an increase in fees, city staff feel that it is in the best interest of the city to move forward independently.”

The firm will analyze where businesses are currently located and suggest changes or improvements that could help recruit new businesses.

The company would also work with existing businesses and help interested entrepreneurs be matched with franchises.

Council will consider a request from the Elizabethton Electric Department for a contract addendum to allow mobile app and integrated voice response payments for EED customers.

The EED is in the process of changing billing providers, and when the switch is made the new company, Cash Cycle Solutions, offers mobile app and automated phone payment options, EED General Manager Rob Toney said.

“A mobile app would allow them to pay and check their bills in real time on the smart phone or device,” Toney said. “The mobile app will also enable the electric department to sign customers up for eBill, which is an electronic bill.”

The IVR portion of the system would allow customers to make payments on the phone and would free up cashiers to serve walk-in customers more efficiently, Toney said.

The programs come with a $2,000 set up charge for the mobile app and a $400 minimum monthly payment or 8 cents per account signed up. The IVR system has a setup fee of $1,500 and a $500 monthly fee based on 2,000 phone payments.

The EED has the funding in the operating and maintenance budget to cover expenses, Toney said. Council will also be asked to approve several event requests including the Carter County Relay for Life utilities request, the Carter County Car Club Cruise In, the Spring Break 5k and the Milligan College Bicycle Race.

Council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall.