/ City of Sweetwater trying to bring more chain restaurants, retail

City of Sweetwater trying to bring more chain restaurants, retail

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Most cities want to grow to provide more opportunities for the people who live there, which is what city leaders in Sweetwater said they have in mind.

City manager David A. Vela says restaurants like Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, or coffee shops like Starbucks should already be in town, based on Sweetwater tracking more than 30,000 vehicles coming in or passing through every day.

“It’s about quality of life and giving our residents and what they need,” said Vela.

Vela says most of the restaurants in town are fast food and drive-thrus, and there are little to no dine-in places.

“Those retails are going to come in and those folks that go to the retailers are going to help fund the city with sales taxes and property taxes as well,” said Vela.

The City of Sweetwater is working with its municipal development district to collect data from those visiting or living in town using the “location services” feature on smartphones.

Executive director at Sweetwater Economic Development Miesha Adames says their goal is to capitalize off the traffic from Interstate 20.

“Reports have shown that we have like a headcount of over 50,000 people that stop around this area per day,” said Adames.

This data is then given to market research company The Retail Coach. The data allows them to study where people spend their time between the hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

“You know, younger age groups go out to eat and then go grocery shopping or something like that. So, they’re able to, I guess, hone in on the type of shoppers we have here in Sweetwater,” said Adames.

Since mid-November, the city has been collecting data in hopes to bring in more traffic to the community.

“We live and die by sales and property tax, so it’s going to be a good thing for everybody if we’re able to have success in this endeavor,” said city manager Vela.

So far, about nine out of 15 big-name chains the city’s spoken with are interested in developing.

Sweetwater is hoping to be able to retain its market research company over the next three years, and if they see improvements, they hope to be with them longer.