Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

Economic development is a vital local government responsibility because it guides the provision of jobs for residents, markets for the purchase of goods, and revenue for the government itself. Shopping malls have been key drivers of local economic activity for decades, but their viability going forward has become uncertain since the turn of the century. This paper considers both reasons for this uncertainty and strategies that have been or can be implemented to improve mall sustainability and profitability. While literature addressing this topic focuses almost exclusively on the role played by mall management, this paper places special emphasis on the role of local governments. In order to take a more detailed approach, the City of Florence, Kentucky (the City) and its local mall will be considered. The Florence Mall, along with most in the nation, faces a need to adopt new strategies if it is to continue to meet the changing demands of its customers. The City has a direct stake in the mall’s performance because of the revenue it generates via taxes.

In the following pages, the literature review describes the changing context of shopping malls in regards to the Internet and other culture shifts followed by an examination of strategies that have been identified for the 21st century. The research design then outlines specific objectives and the methodology. A concentrated focus is taken with the analysis and findings section. Here, strategies will be examined as to their feasibility and practicality for the Florence Mall. Finally, ramifications for local governments as a whole will be discussed in the policy implications section and final comments in the conclusion.

Key findings are as follows:

  • Shopping malls face a crossroads as they adapt to changes in the retail sector.
  • Local governments like the City of Florence have a stake in shopping mall performance and, consequently, a responsibility to be proactive in enhancing that performance.
  • Short term, the City should cultivate a positive relationship with Florence Mall management and ensure that the property’s zoning is flexible and allows for innovation.
  • Long term, the City should cooperate with managers to identify and attract appropriate businesses and incorporate other uses such as residential or entertainment that will keep the mall relevant and its offerings diverse.
  • The City of Florence should maintain an emergency fund balance adequate for preserving service levels in the event of lost revenue resulting from a downturn in the mall.



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