BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– If you’re a fan of brands like Aldi, Slim Chickens and Chicken Salad Chick, read on. More brands like these may be on their way to the Bay County area and it’s all thanks to an economic Development firm called Nextsite.
The company utilizes specialized technology to perform market analysis, connecting prospective businesses with developers in the Bay County area. The most recent project Nextsite is responsible for is the new Aldi’s coming to Callaway in Summer 2023.
The new development and sounds of construction are a welcoming sight for Callaway City Manager Ed Cook. Like so many other cities in the Panhandle, Callaway faced major destruction after Hurricane Michael and then the pandemic. Which is why the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, Nextsite and local city governments partnered up to see major retail development projects like Aldi’s, come to life.
“The number one goal was not only to rebuild Callaway, but brand it and bring it back better than it was before,” said Cook.
Nextsite uses secure technology to track a customer’s shopping journey. This data is then compiled, and Nextsite presents it to retailers to see if they are interested in calling Bay County home. Once the company agrees on opening up in the area, Nextsite then connects the retailer with local developers.
“We use really unique software that allows us to track peoples mobile devices. All of the data is anonymized, and we don’t know a users personal data like their phone number or address, but it allows us to understand the customer journey,” said Nextsite CEO, Chuck Branch.
Branch says understanding a shopper’s habits is imperative to attracting potential business and retailers to the area.
“By matching Lynn Haven, Panama City or Callaway to other markets in the Southeast where these business concepts are already located allows us to tell a story on why they should be in Bay County,” he said.
Nextsite hopes the increasing commercial development will benefit bay county residents in variety of ways.
“It promotes increasing sales tax revenue, increases on property tax revenue, it creates jobs, and creates economic impact from a quality of life standpoint,” he said.
Nextsite began working in Bay County in March of 2018 just before Hurricane Michael. The program has been extended through 2025. The Bay County Chamber is helping to curb the cost of Nextsite’s services for local municipalities.
“Just as we’ve seen the successes behind us at Aldi’s in Callaway with Nexsite’s involvement, the expectation over the next three years is to continue that,” said Patrick Jones, Vice Chair of Communications for the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.
This year alone, the city of Callaway spent 7,000 dollars on the program, a price city manager Ed Cook said is well worth the investment.
“We just want to grow in the areas that best benefit our residents, and it’s a great time to be on the east side,” said Cook.