As easy as 1, 2, 3: A downtown market analysis tool at your fingertips

A proper market study can be an expensive and complicated pursuit.  It’s a major community project that requires time, commitment, and the active involvement of a group of dedicated people.  And let’s be realistic too. Considering that dedicated group is volunteering their time outside of work and family responsibilities, completing and implementing a market study is one of the more difficult tasks of a Main Street organization. It’s certainly not motivating like the excitement of planning a  festival.

Thankfully there are Main Street experts and enthusiasts who understand this challenge. Through a cooperative effort, the University of Wisconsin Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce Main Street Program created a Downtown and Business District Market Analysis toolbox that is available online. Beyond the user-friendly quality of the tools, it’s free.

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This toolbox is designed to help local business leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, and economic development professionals understand their local marketplace and identify business and real estate development opportunities that make sense for their communities. The well-designed Web site presents essential tasks in an easily understood format.

There are three key parts, understanding market conditions, understanding market opportunities and developing market-driven strategies. Each section simply builds upon each other. The first includes tools to analyze current building uses, business mix, trade area size, economic and consumer data, consumer attitudes and business operator needs. The second presents market analysis techniques for seven sectors including retail, service businesses, restaurants, entertainment and theater opportunities, residential units, office space, and lodging facilities. And the final section guides the user in developing realistic conclusions and recommendations for today’s marketplace.

If updating the market study is one of your organization’s 2010 work plan priorities, then give this valuable resource a test run. Identify that one economic restructuring committee member with a knack for details and the Web, pass on the Web address and explore away. At a minimum, peruse the Web site to gain a basic understanding of how a market analysis works. Go to: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/cced/downtowns/dma/index.cfm for more information.

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