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Sarah Haston: A look at growth in Lebanon

Sarah Haston • Updated Apr 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM

As the economic development director for the city of Lebanon, growth and managing growth is a topic that comes up every day in several conversations. I have been in the position now as the director for a little more than two years, and I have seen many changes in just those two short years. 

It is true. We are growing all around us and will continue to do so, and well for me – that’s OK. I was hired to help grow our city with recruiting new business and industry to help make a positive economic impact in Lebanon.

So what exactly does our recent growth look like? What are the numbers really shaping up to look at? Is it rapid growth or more of a steady consistent pace? According to the Lebanon Planning Department, single-family homes built in the city of Lebanon:

• 2013 – 237

• 2014 – 272

• 2015 – 314

• 2016 – 325

• 2017 – 473

Looking specifically at 2017, the Lebanon Planning Commission approved 2,123 units in 2017, but that does not mean they were built. This number includes single-family, multi-family, duplexes and mixed-use housing. We currently have about 33 neighborhoods under construction in Lebanon. Let’s also note most neighborhoods take years to develop. We currently have at least three that have had construction ongoing for more than 12 years. This is a pretty steady increase in our population and our residential construction.

We are also seeing a consistent increase in new business registration in the past several years. The number of new businesses registered yearly in the city of Lebanon:

• 2015 – 260

• 2016 – 302

• 2017 – 364

• 2018 – 78 and counting…

An easy way to summarize this growth pattern, while looking at residential growth and new business registrations is to consider:

• from April 2010 to February 2016, Lebanon added 6542 people. 

• that equates to 92 people a month or about three people a day.  

• Lebanon’s population in 2010 was 26,190.  

• the special census of 2016 recorded Lebanon’s population as 32,732. 

• if we continue on this pace, Lebanon’s population would estimate around 34,940.  

• looking at the building permits, an estimated population of Lebanon is about 36,723.  

Lebanon’s current estimated population is between 34,940 and 36,723.

This residential growth information is used to help retailers determine if Lebanon is a good fit currently for their current business model. They also use our current traffic counts around town, our income levels to determine if there is enough disposable income, the buying habits of our residents with consumer behavior data, as well as our current available and ready-to-work workforce. While looking specifically at recruiting retail, the typical equation is population density + median income + traffic count + mobile tracking = projected sales / viable market or site. This is where we can determine with the different retailers what our “custom trade area” really looks like… this means where are our shoppers coming? Who is traveling through, working in our community and shopping before they head home? This number changes our “daytime population” and therefore increases our opportunity for new retailers to look at our area. 

As part of our recruitment strategy we have looked at the retailer categories that are currently expanding, as well as those that are declining and narrowed our opportunities down to the following four categories for active recruitment.

• apparel.

• dining.

• hobby.

• entertainment.

I mentioned these specific categories because, based on our data with supply and demand, these industries are also looking for places similar to Lebanon and in the market today are more of a natural match. While building a retail development strategy, we use this data to help with our marketing and recruitment plan. 

Retail recruitment is important to our economy, but it can’t be our only focus. Retail is not the only efforts we put forth for recruiting, because we also need to look at business and industry, as well as more white-collar jobs to fit in with the current vision for the city of Lebanon that was adopted last year. 

The growth patterns listed previously help contribute to telling our compelling story as to why Lebanon is a viable option for new business recruitment and retail… Having the data, as well as consumer data demographics, has helped our growth recruitment strategy and will continue to help our recruitment efforts in the future. 

Sarah Haston is economic development director in Lebanon.


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