Sven Peterson came back to Iowa with tools to help attract new businesses and to help bolster existing businesses in Perry.

Perry City Administrator Peterson completed Retail Academy in Birmingham, Alabama, last week as part of his training with the research company Retail Strategies.

The City of Perry hired Retail Strategies to gather economic data about Perry using a variety of research and analytical tools.

The company looked at the demographics of the town, along with cell phone data. That data shows where people come from to shop in Perry and where people go to do their shopping.

Retail Strategies identified a number of similar communities to see what those communities have in terms of retail.

Another part of the puzzle, Peterson said, is traffic counts. Retail Strategies drew up a map with the existing retail businesses on it, along with the traffic counts. Peterson said those counts help a new business see where would be the best location.

That data was collected and Peterson was shown how to use it during the Retail Academy last week.

Retail Strategies also shared a list of prospective companies that Perry could attract in the future. Peterson said the company goes after national brands.

He would like to see Perry instead try to locate gaps in the retail market and fill them with smaller stores. One example he gave was an electronics and appliance store. There is a gap in the market with the closure of Don’s TV and Appliance last year.

“So maybe instead of going after say a Sears, maybe there is a smaller, more localized store that could be persuaded to open up in Perry,” Peterson said.

He wants to see the retail sector grow in Perry, but not at the detriment of the existing businesses.

“Really, the large part of the goal behind this is to be able to take this information and report back to the local businesses who are already existing,” Peterson said. “To maybe show them opportunities for growth within their own business.”

The next step, he said, is for the City of Perry, Perry Area Chamber of Commerce and Perry Economic Development to look at the data together. All three entities helped pay for the Retail Academy training.

“The three groups will put our heads together and maybe get to work on identifying some other prospects that we could attract to town,” Peterson said.

He said they hope to offer a Lunch and Learn event for the community in the coming month. The event would allow the three groups to present some of the data collected about Perry and what can be done with it.