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TNECD Retail Academy Grant

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is offering a grant opportunity to communities across the State with a population of less than 25,000 to help increase revenues from retail. This grant will fully fund selected cities to complete the Retail Academy program in September of 2018. The goal is to provide these cities and towns with the resources and education necessary to enhance their retail landscape and improve their economy as a whole. Retail Academy will educate communities on best practices to attract new retailers while providing resources to support and grow existing local businesses. Retail Academy will empower these cities to increase their local sales and property tax collections as well as increase the overall quality of life. The grant application applies to one of two programs offered.  Retail Academy 101 (101) and Retail Academy 201 (201).  The programs are described below. 

Retail Academy 101 ($10,000 Value)

Retail Academy 101 is a program developed by a leading national retail advisory firm, Retail Strategies. The program assists communities in strengthening their retail landscape.The course consists of a training program that educates 2-3 participants from each community on strategies of retail recruitment and then provides demographic data that can be used to implement the training. Participants leave with information that they can use to market their communities to retail real estate professionals and information for their current retailers on product lines that could sell well in their community.

Some of the deliverables include:


Demographic Data

Peer Analysis
Mobile Tracking Data
GAP Analysis
Trade Area
Demographics Overview


Retail Recruitment Tools

Expert analysis
Customized Retail Marketing Guide
Aerial Map with Retailers Plotted
Elevator Pitch


International Council of Shopping Centers Overview

Regional Conferences
Deal Making


Real Estate Industry Expert Speakers

Current Industry Trends
Site Selection 101
Retail Recruitment & Marketing
Public/Private Partnerships


Networking Opportunities

Retail Brokers
Neighboring Communities

Retail Academy 201 ($5,000 Value)

Retail Academy 201 will cater to specific property marketing. It will also include a refresher course for all those who have completed the 101 course. Communities must go through Retail Academy 101 to qualify for 201.  (Communities who have already been through 101 and would like to repeat the course with updated demographic data can potentially do so. If your community is interested in this, talk to TNECD before applying.) For those applying for 201, this does not include a new set of demographic data and marketing materials. The deliverables will be property specific.

Those communities that have learned about the retail real estate process and have prospects to target from 101 will be interested in this program. Property marketing is the logical next step to maximize the exposure for your communities and your sites. Retail Strategies will work with the community to identify the top three properties to market at conferences and in outreach efforts. We will develop the site-specific marketing flyers and teach community leaders how to talk about the properties when prospecting. The site-specific property marketing education and creation of materials will be coordinated in advance of the fall Retail Academy event.

Q1 (July – September 2018)

  • Attend Retail Academy
  • Call local property owners / leasing agents and get site flyers; share with them your plans for retail recruitment so you can work in tandem with them
  • Create Property Catalog (this will evolve over time as properties are listed and sold)
  • Start contacting retailers from your retail prospect list
  • Provide relevant market data to local/downtown retailers


Q2 (October – December 2018)

  • Utilize “Peer Analysis” to identify retail concepts to add to your prospect list
  • Attend ICSC Southeastern Conference in October (Atlanta), if budget allows
  • Host workshop with local brokerage community and property owners to collaborate together and strengthen relationships
  • Continue to follow up with prospective retailers


Q3 (January – March 2019)

  • Have a call (or meeting) with property owners and local brokers to touch base and exchange updates
  • Follow up with interested retailers from the conference
  • Continue to follow up with prospective retailers


Q4 (April – June 2019)

  • Distribute survey to local retailers (“Mom & Pops”) to find out how the data is benefiting them
  • Continue to follow up with prospective retailers
  • Have a call (or meeting) with property owners and local brokers to touch base and exchange updates

Grant Details

The 101 Academy is a course completed over two half-days (September 12-13, 2018) that will provide training and materials directly related to your community and its retail prospects. Participants in the 201 program can also attend the course and should bring the data that was provided during the 101 training they attended.

2-3 community members who can devote time over the coming year to retail development and recruitment are required to attend the entire session. TNECD will approve the attendees; they should be from local government, chambers of commerce, real estate or other similar fields who are committed to working with retailers and property owners for the next year or more.

This grant is competitive. Selected communities will be notified of acceptance in June.

Each community will be required to submit a quarterly report and attend quarterly webinars for a year after the training to show compliance with the requirements listed above and to identify areas where additional training or assistance is needed.

Retail development is a long-term economic development strategy and will require a concerted effort over several years. This Academy will provide helpful tools, training and resources that will assist in your retail development efforts.