Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"SolanoProspector" Scouting business locations on the Net


April 30, 2004

Scouting business locations on the Net

By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD -- Want to open a business but don't have a location picked out yet? Got a location in mind, but not sure what type of business the surrounding customer base might support?

Those and similar questions can be answered by a city service called Properties Online, a database of available properties in Fairfield. The software provides site-specific demographic information based on census figures and statistics generated by companies that track consumer spending.

Cities traditionally have fished for companies by marketing quality of life, residential opportunities, workforce education levels, tax refunds and below-market loans. While these hooks still apply, fierce competition to lure low-impact high-revenue companies has caused some cities to make their bait more visible.

A representative of the company that markets the software gave a presentation Thursday at the Center for Creative Arts. The service has been available on the city's Web site for about two months.

"Basically it's information on a map," said Mario Ubalde, spokesman for GIS Planning. "It geocodes each property that would meet your needs.

"The way we live our lives, the streets we take and the business decisions we make all depend on the little things."

The city paid $25,000 to San Francisco-based GIS Planning for the software. It's free for use by accessing the economic development link on the city's Web site or logging on to www.gisplanning.net/fairfield/.

Here's how it works:

After accessing the Online Properties link, users type in the kind of property they are looking for, including lot size or building area, zoning limitations and whether they want to buy or lease. Further probing reveals household demographics within a user-defined proximity, as well as competing or complementing businesses in that area.

Online properties uses aerial photos to give up-close views of neighborhoods and city blocks. It also gives traffic counts, household demographics, race, income distribution and consumer expenditures.

"In terms of economic development it's the single greatest tool a city could provide," said Joe Lucchio, city economic development project manager.

Prior to the new system, the city had used an obscure online property locator that often contained old information. With Online Properties, which functions much like a multiple listing service for commercial property, it will be to the advantage of commercial brokers to post and update their commercial listings, Lucchio said.

"When someone contacts me about office space, this is the first place I'm going to look," he said. "It allows us to respond much quicker to site selection consultants and brokers."

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or mbunk@dailyrepublic.net.



Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive