The Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce's retail market study is moving along, and with the East Grand Forks' Development Housing Authority committed to the project, eyes are now on next steps.
East Grand Forks' Economic Development Housing Authority committed $10,000 over the next two years to the study.
The other entities involved, the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Corporation, have not committed money because the budget for the project is yet to be determined, said Chamber President and CEO Barry Wilfahrt.
"Protecting our tax base is important," Wilfahrt said. "And all of the entities are into participating, even if they've not financially committed yet."
Members of the Market Capture Assessment Executive Committee have been meeting with local developers, potential project developers and mall owners. Wilfahrt said he went to Chicago to visit Columbia Mall owner GK Development in February. Plans for the mall were discussed.
"They stated to us that they think we have a strong market and they are looking to invest more into the mall, but declined to go into more detail on what specifically they're planning on doing," Wilfahrt said.
Once the group finishes meeting with various property owners, members will begin quantitative and qualitative assessments. The group will then develop recommendations and an action plan later this year, Wilfahrt said.
The committee is looking into hiring companies like customer analytics firm Buxton and economic development firm Praxis to study the market in Grand Forks. Groups like Buxton use data to find what stores and experiences could be supported in the community.
Wilfahrt said the last time the Chamber did a study like this, in 2011, it brought several women's clothing stores to town. One was Chico's; it eventually closed in 2018.
Wilfahrt said that by the end of this process, hundreds of people will be involved.