PATTERSON -- Let's say you like to shop at Target, eat pizza from Round Table and read Newsweek. Soon, that information will be used to try to lure specific retailers to the city.
Using a complex database that tracks credit card receipts, subscriptions and other spending patterns, a Texas-based firm called Buxton will create a "Community ID" program that knows where people shop, eat and drive to buy products.
The City Council agreed at its Tuesday meeting to hire Buxton for $70,000 to pinpoint the shopping habits of the city's residents. Based on that data, the company will identify major retailers that would be a good fit for Patterson and provide marketing tools to persuade those businesses to set up shop.
The decision to hire the firm came after a lengthy discussion about Buxton's high price tag and the retail needs of the city. It passed on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Sam Cuellar objecting to the project.
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Cuellar said that since developers will benefit from the information, they should pitch in with the cost. He also questioned whether the city will get a return on its investment.
'A step in the right direction'
Other council members said it was crucial to move forward with the project to increase the sales tax revenue that is needed to help pay for public services.
"The price is going to hurt, but an effective economic program pays for itself if it is done right. It may not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction," said Councilman Dominic Farhina.
Buxton representative Robert Belcher told the council that having more retail outlets will improve the quality of life for Patterson residents by providing more shopping and dining options. It also will increase sales tax and property values, create jobs and stop the flow of dollars to places such as Modesto and the Bay Area.
Belcher said the firm has worked with about 350 cities across the nation, including Dinuba in Tulare County, which used the data to attract 19 new retailers to the city of about 18,000.
He said the program has a 60 percent to 70 percent success rate, but it largely depends on how city representatives use the information. Those who aggressively market to retailers will be much more successful than those who don't do anything with the data, Belcher said.
City Manager Cleve Morris said he believes the project will serve as a "catalyst" to bring new businesses to the city. Although the retailers probably would come to the city eventually, he said, this program puts Patterson on their radar.
"This does two things: it helps you attract them sooner than they would have come normally. Right now, they don't know who we are, and we don't know who they are," Morris said. "It also allows us to be somewhat selective in the businesses that we want here."
Councilwoman Dejeune Shelton said Patterson needs to stop the leakage of retail dollars to other cities.
"We're going to try to bring in retailers to encourage people to shop and buy in Patterson," she said.
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at email@example.com or 238-4574.