City’s 2019 economic development partner provided reports, graphs — but no results

Big Lots store on Main and Highway 139? This project never came to fruition.

The city of Susanville’s 2019 dive into economic development was arguably — as the local ranchers are wont to say — “All hat and no cattle.”

Almost four years ago, way back in June 2019, the Susanville City Council unanimously approved a $50,000, one-year contract with the Buxton Company — “a leading force in retail site selection and development” — that promised to “outline and review your community development objectives … “

According to the contract, the city’s objectives were: Develop profile of residents and visitors, leveraging mobile analytics; understand current retail and restaurant economic condition; recruit new retailers and restaurants; and retain existing retailers and restaurants.”

Buxton utilized more than 250 public consumer and business databases and compared Susanville’s “potential sites to the universe of all competing sites operating in the U.S.” and would also provide “insights into more than 7,500 categories of lifestyles, purchase behaviors and media reading and viewing habits of your residents and visitors” while providing “three unique profiles for your solution.”

The Residential Profile analyzed data from all the households in Susanville’s drive-time area. The Visitor Profile analyzed data from a 12-month period from non-residents. The Combined Total Community Consumer Profile combined those two profiles into one.

Here’s the Buxton project timeline.

Buxton also was to provide “individualized marketing packages for up to 20 target retailers,” and Buxton would “notify each retailer’s key real estate decision maker by letter, informing them that they have been qualified by Buxton as a potential viable fit for your area and should expect to be contacted by a representative of the city.”

Buxton’s recommendation
After all that analysis, Buxton proposed a single retail outlet for economic development in Susanville — a Big Lots store near the intersection of Main Street and Highway 139 that never came to be. In the meantime, local a number of restaurants and retail outlets have closed or have struggled to survive.

Back in the day, one city official familiar with Buxton’s data allegedly said the results showed Susanville was a good town to own a gas station.

Lassen News obtained this information about Buxton through a California Public Records Act request.