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Retail 1-2-3

Retail 1-2-3 is the third in a series of workbooks for municipal and elected officials in Illinois and builds on the earlier successes of Planning 1-2-3, a how-to guide to the elements of comprehensive planning published in September 2006 and Sensible Tools for Healthy Communities, a workbook from 2004 on development review. The hallmark of the series is its attention to Illinois issues through in-depth descriptions and detailed case studies of Illinois communities and legislation. With the help of technical advisory committees of local and national experts from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the series coalesces into a valuable toolkit for communities grappling with timely issues of economic development, workforce housing, protecting natural resources, improving public safety, or combination thereof.


Joseph McElroy is a city planner, former journalist, and principal and founder of McElroy Associates in Naperville, Ill., a boutique consulting firm specializing in public policy, community planning, and marketing communications. The firm’s clients include real estate experts, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. 

Josh Ellis is a community development associate with the Metropolitan Planning Council, a former research associate with the Campaign for Sensible Growth, and adjunct professor of environmental politics at Northeastern Illinois University. 

Photographs for this workbook were taken by Michael Davidson of the Campaign for Sensible Growth and Josh Ellis of Metropolitan Planning Council. Special thanks to other contributors, including many municipal governments, quasi-governmental organizations, chambers of commerce, sponsors, and corporations.


Chapter 1, “Planning for Retail Development,” highlights the value of incorporating retail into your community’s economic development plan. It details the basics of writing an economic development plan with an emphasis on retail, including conducting an economic baseline analysis and market assessment, which is the first step toward retail success.

Chapter 2, “What Do You Want from Retail?,” stresses the importance of setting clear and well informed goals. A thorough explanation of retail’s four Rs — recruitment, retention, revitalization, and replacement — demonstrates why all retail development is not the same. This chapter also explores current trends in retail development as well as the different types of retail.

Chapter 3, “What Do Retailers Want from You?,” outlines the ways a community can improve its place in the market. By understanding the players involved, importance of clarity and efficiency, and prudent use of tangible and financial incentives, a community can get the retail it wants without sacrificing its goals or integrity.

Chapter 4, “Organizing for Retail Success,” offers a thorough explanation of organizational structures for retail development that can lend clarity, efficiency, and predictability to your community’s efforts. This chapter also explores the art of retail recruiting.

Chapter 5, “Measuring Success and Looking Ahead,” explores different means by which your community can evaluate its progress. This chapter provides valuable case studies of successful retail development in different kinds of communities and examines future trends to watch that may impact your community’s goals.