Kinston City Council ends pact with Retail Strategies

Kinston City Council ends pact with Retail Strategies

The Kinston City Council decided to discontinue its partnership with Retail Strategies in Tuesday’s regular meeting.

By a 3-2 vote, the board elected to deny the contract request by Retail Strategies. Kinston worked with the organization since December 2014 and invested $38,000 over three years. Retail Strategies had asked for a $25,000-per-year commitment to continue services after contractual obligations ended in December.

Sammy Aiken, Felicia Solomon and Kristal Suggs voted against the proposal, while Robbie Swinson and Joe Tyson voted for it. Aiken said he felt the area didn’t get much for its investment.

“(Retail Strategies) had other clients and they were pushing areas like Greenville more than Kinston,” Aiken said. “We didn’t get a good answer on how they were branding Kinston, and I had expected more success. We still have an empty mall and K-Mart shopping center, and when it comes to national conventions, we’ve done as much advertisement for our city as they do.

“I know they’ve tried to get people to come through (U.S.) 70, but some places that come aren’t there for long. We discussed Cookout well before teaming up with (Retail Strategies) and that was in the running beforehand. We would’ve had to shuffle funds from different locations and I didn’t see where that benefited us.”

Swinson said he saw plenty of benefit in maintaining the partnership with Retail Strategies.

“I felt like we needed someone cheerleading for the city and Retail Strategies has a lot of connections,” Swinson said. “We don’t have someone at a national level cheerleading for us and there isn’t enough in the budget to do what Retail Strategies normally does. I thought it was a benefit for the city working with these guys — they’re a private business that’s well-known — and we may have lost out on potential business not resigning.

“I don’t see it as a win-win not tagging along with Retail Strategies or another (entity). For us to find relationships is a big hill to climb without help.”

Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said existing relationships with local entities will have to play a larger role.

“We’ll continue to work with on ideas for economic development with the Kinston Planning Department, Pride of Kinston, Committee of 100 and Lenoir County Economic Development  for business recruitment,” Sears said.

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