Area officials were disappointed by the news Publix has decided not to build a new location in Alexander City, which ends a second attempt to land the coveted grocery store chain.
This does not mean we should give up but we should take the time for introspection and learn what we need to do as a community to bring in more retail development.
Mayor Tommy Spraggins said he knows of a city that finally got Publix to come in after six tries so perseverance is a virtue, especially when you consider Publix usually draws other businesses to follow it.
Too many shoppers are going out of Alex City to buy food and merchandise, as demonstrated by a 2018 study showing $149 million in yearly retail leakage in the Lake Martin area, so there is retail opportunity for the right businesses.
Why did Publix pass us by? Not due to a lack of effort by the city and the chamber of commerce which aggressively pursued the chain for three years. The Lake Martin tourism traffic is seasonal, however, and Alexander City may be overbuilt for grocery stores.
The closest Publix stores to Alexander City are 34 miles away in Auburn, 41 miles away in Montgomery and 48 miles away in Chelsea, and it would have been located on the U.S. Highway 280 corridor here, so the location was right.
We agree with Spraggins’ assessment: “We respect their decision and hope they will reconsider our area in the future,” he said. “This is a temporary setback.”
The only way we won’t bring in more businesses is if we stop trying and don’t build on the efforts being made.