By Margaret Downing – REPORTER

At the Oct. 3 South Beloit City Council meeting, Commissioners heard from representatives of Buxton Analytics Platform of Fort Worth, Texas. The City of South Beloit hired Buxton earlier this year (at $50,000 over a three-year period) to assist in drawing business to the area. The City has seen quite a drop in tax revenue over the past couple of years and economic development and retail growth is a very important subject because of that situation. When Buxton was hired, the Council was told that a box store, for instance, a major retailer or business would be made aware of what South Beloit has to offer, especially in regard to access to population numbers but could not guarantee that it would necessarily come to South Beloit itself. Buxton is considered an “industry leader in customer analytics.” According to the Company website, Buxton offers a “cross-functional, mobile-friendly platform that provides users with the combination of analytics tools relevant to their professional roles and unites organizations with a centralized view of their customers. Included in the platform is the Company’s proprietary real estate tool, SCOUT.” The Company currently represents about 750 municipalities in the country. A “Pro-Retail Pro-Business Development” PowerPoint presentation was given Oct. 3 that focused on South Beloit. It was explained that Mayor Ted Rehl “would shortly reach out to approximately 20 retailers on initial contacts” through conference calls.

Buxton has contacted businesses like McDonald’s and Burger King, along with a women’s apparel company called CATO’s. Additionally, three grocery market stores have been contacted. One decided already to only open a new store in western Wisconsin. Another could be a definite “potential anchor,” and another has already decided not to pursue expansion at this time. Sporting goods and auto parts companies have also been contacted. According to the representative at the Oct. 3 meeting, Buxton has also done some demographic studies on South Beloit itself, which has a population of about 7,800 residents. Taken into consideration was a look at traits of the community and how residents spend money. It was determined, for example, that people who live in South Beloit like to go out to eat, enjoy NASCAR racing, antiquing, outdoor recreation, and listening to country music. Taking into account a 20 to 25-minute drive from the city, there are approximately 180,000 people who live in this area or region. Analytically, Buxton identifies retail categories and “scouts” businesses, identifies site selections, and obtains retailer feedback. Information is then passed on to the municipality. Pointed out was the success of Rockton Road and Hwy. 173/West Lane Road businesses already in place. Access to and from Interstate 90 is a big plus for the area. Availability of land is also a bonus near the interstate, which South Beloit offers at Hwy. 75. Buxton will continue to pursue business and retail recruitment pro-actively.

In other Council business, Commissioners approved payment of $214,715 in bills from Sept. 17-30. It was also noted that new toilets and sinks were being installed at City Park, and “a lot of pothole filling was scheduled for the next two weeks.” A discussion of purchasing new digital radios for emergency personnel was talked about. The Police currently use analog radios. Winnebago County will be switching late next year to digital dispatching, which is already the case in Rock County. Cost to the City would come to about $75,000 for digital “Star-Com” radios from Motorola. The Fire Department would need to replace 18 portable radios and there are 10 digital compatibles now available. Without digital capability, communication will not be possible between the City and the County. Approval was given for the South Beloit Homecoming Parade, which was held on Oct. 7.

A variance in the fence height in the front yard from four feet to six feet in height for property at 11 Smith Ln. was okayed, as was a variance in the required front yard setback of 30 feet to 10 feet for an expanding business located at 722 Progressive Ln. An ordinance amending the City’s zoning code for signs was approved. A resolution approving a final pay request amounting to $31,503.02 to Insituform Technologies USA, LLC for sanitary sewer improvements was passed. Awarding of an audit contract for fiscal years ending Dec. 31, 2017-2018 to Benning Group for $49,800 was approved. A resolution “declaring 201 Eighth St. as surplus property and authorizing its sale” was okayed pending an updated appraisal. A budget timetable was okayed with city meetings to begin in the near future. A two-year bid notice was approved for snow plowing removal services in the City.

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