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Your Most Frequently Asked Development Questions Answered
How do businesses decide to locate in Blaine?
A decision to move to a particular location is often based on market factors. Currently, Blaine is an attractive market to many businesses due to its growing population, the incomes of our residents, and our great access to major roadways like Highway 65 and Interstate 35W. However, Blaine has some market challenges as well. The biggest challenges we see in Blaine are high rental rates on retail space, low vacancy rates on industrial spaces under 20,000 square feet, and a shift from large box retailers to smaller boutique retailers and restaurants.
Why is Blaine seeing so many national chains? What about sit down restaurants?
Due to high interest rates and increased building costs, the cost of retail space across the metro has increased in some instances to over $50 per square foot for space in a new building. In Blaine, we have seen rental rates as high as $40 per square foot. As the cost of space in new buildings has increased, so has the cost of space in existing buildings due to increased demand and increased cost of maintenance and utilities. With that, national chains are better positioned to pay higher rental rates than are a small locally owned sit-down restaurant, boutique retailers, or a small chain owned by a local restaurateur. Restaurants are also facing challenges of rising labor and food costs. With their three major expenses increasing, food, labor, and rent, small locally owned restaurants and restaurant chains are finding it increasingly challenging to find space that fits their brand and budget to expand or move into a new space.
Blaine also severely lacks available second generation, turnkey restaurant space. This primarily impacts entrepreneurs trying to open their first or second restaurant location and smaller scale restaurateurs. Due to the high cost of commercial kitchen equipment, second generation space is highly sought after by individuals looking to start their own restaurant.
What has the City done to attract businesses that residents want to see here?
Over the last two years, Blaine’s economic development staff has worked to identify businesses for attraction, with a strategic focus on restaurants, sit down and fast casual, unique retail including high-end grocers, and experiential retail. City staff has reached out to over 75 businesses across the US to attract them to Blaine and the overall response has been positive. Over 20 percent of the businesses contacted have sat down for a meeting with the City to talk about the potential for expansion and determine whether Blaine is a good fit for their business. In addition, city staff has been working to share the vision of Blaine with local developers and commercial real estate brokers, each of whom have a list of businesses they’ve targeted and attracted to other projects across the country. The decision for a business to expand does not happen overnight. City staff continues to develop relationships with these businesses and keep them up to date on city happenings and development so that when they are ready, Blaine is a top choice.
The City has also expanded its Small Business Loan program to allow businesses to utilize funds for capital expenditures in existing spaces and updates that prevent blight. In addition, Blaine works closely with Anoka County Open to Business to provide counseling and technical assistance to local entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business.
If you have more questions or are looking for more information on business attraction in Blaine, reach out to Blaine’s economic development staff at 763-717-2778 or email RTucker@BlaineMN.gov.
Resources and information are also available on the City’s website under Business and Development at BlaineBiz.com or under the Planning sections at BlaineMN.gov/Planning.