He said Jacksonville was the only town in Arkansas that sent a delegation to the conference.
“There are 500 cities and towns in Arkansas and with us the only one at the conference, it keeps our name in the forefront,” Fletcher explained. “We’ve got to promote ourselves----—the $700 million impact of the base, the impact of the surrounding businesses, the steady high revenues that Chili’s is experiencing.”
Fletcher said whenever a national chain said Jacksonville was too small, he tossed them those figures “And suddenly they wanted us to send them more information.”
The mayor said he came away from the conference more convinced than ever that the city needs to annex the highway corridor north of Jacksonville. “More than one developer told me at the conference that retail outlets feed off of one another and want to be close together, not spread out through a city,” explained the mayor.
As much as he wanted to, Fletcher said he couldn’t name any particular company that looks promising. “We don’t want to scare anyone off,” he said, adding that a number of steakhouses are looking at Jacksonville because of Chili’s success.
Chili’s averages more than $3 million a month in taxable prepared food receipts, according to the city’s advertising and promotion commission.
Fletcher said he also left the conference knowing that Jacksonville has to do more to bring in family-oriented activities such as a movie theater and a bowling alley. “I may propose a family-enterprise zone, which would offer tax credits and incentives to family businesses building or remodeling in downtown Jacksonville.”
The regional meeting in Dallas is one of many put on by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The mayor said several thousand people attended the show. “Rickey Hayes, who has been to many, many of these, said the crowd was much bigger than in the past few years indicating that retailers, restaurants and other businesses may be gearing up to expand more than they have recently. That’ll be good news for us.”
Founded in 1957, the ICSC is the global-trade association of the shopping-center industry. Its 60,000 worldwide members include shopping-center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, lenders, retailers and other professionals as well as academics and public officials.
As the global-industry trade association, ICSC links with more than 25 national and regional shopping-center councils throughout the world.