Several of the real estate professionals at Franklin Street of Jacksonville attended the ISCS Carolinas Idea Exchange in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday and Tuesday where retailers shared ideas and trends in the industry. Regional Managing Partner Carrie Smith, Whitney Kantor and Katy Figg shared with the Jacksonville Business Journal some of the things they learned from the convention.
Why is it important for professionals in your business to attend conferences like this?
Our business is a trend-driven business. We can learn a lot by seeing how other companies, retailers, owners, and municipalities do things by sharing best practices. In addition, the shopping center industry is a relationship business and these types of conferences give us the opportunity to maintain our existing network and forge new relationships — a lot of the times with a retailer or developer who may not have had their sights on Jacksonville before.
Why is Charlotte a good comparison to Jacksonville as far as retail customers?
Charlotte and Jacksonville share similar demographics and spending habits; both cities attract millennials with Jacksonville having a growing hub for tech and the entrepreneurial sector, as well as, a lower cost of living with a higher quality of life due to our rivers, beaches and weather.
Jacksonville is following a similar growth pattern as Charlotte. With a continued focus on the Urban Core, push to develop high-quality retail projects and the overall positive trend Jacksonville and its economy is experiencing. During the next five years, Jacksonville could look a little more like Charlotte, Austin and Portland. Jacksonville is where those cities were 5-10 years ago.
What retailers are beginning to understand is that while Jacksonville may not have the density of some of these cities, the incomes, dollars and economic drivers are in place to sustain retail. IKEA is a great example of this.
What have you learned that you can take back to Jacksonville?
The shopping center industry is 15% of our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with 1 in 11 employees directly tied to the shopping center industry in the United States. That is significant and reiterates the impact that shopping centers and retail can have on our community locally. Great cities have strong vibrant urban cores driven by public and private partnerships. Both retail and residential growth in the urban core will happen through these means with Millennials continuing to have a significant impact on our business. Urban growth — both residential and retail growth — continues to drive public and private partnership discussions. Millennials continue to drive retail growth across the country. There continues to be a healthy market and positive view toward retail growth over the next few years.