Flo Meadows, who joined Latter & Blum in 2018, has 25 years of commercial real estate experience, including brokerage, acquisition and development, financial analysis and consulting.
An upbringing rooted in the small city of Breaux Bridge provided love of community and the people that make the community special. The greatest influences on my life were my Christian parents and family. My mom was a servant leader, teaching us a lifelong love of learning and an authentic love for people. My dad equipped and empowered us with a strong work ethic, appreciation of family and gratitude for smallest of blessings.
People are co-creators of community. The most powerful motivator in toolkit of city making is the human heart. Faith, family and stewardship lessons shaped my greatest passion — being a people philanthropist. Much of my time is spent in community service, seeking to be a contributing collaborator on our communities’ progress and growth.
My French-speaking grandparents encouraged my love for the French language. Studying and traveling abroad was a dream of mine from an early age. Inspirational teachers in high school and college encouraged that dream until it became reality in 1994. The career path I envisioned was using business knowledge gained through accounting to pursue international business. The global economy inserted a twist in that I live in Lafayette and work with clients of seven nationalities.
My first toys were Mom’s largest kitchen utensils that allowed me to excavate and build things in the back yard. As we entered teen years, we loved touring the homes that my uncle built. My fascination with community and the built environment led me to join a land development company during a healthy real estate development growth cycle. Later, I spent a decade as chief financial officer for a firm that owned many companies. Learning business models of startups, seed and mature companies all phases of company life cycles including mergers and acquisitions, when coupled with love of community development, led me to shift career paths to commercial real estate investment brokerage.
Retailers access data analytics on shopping patterns of their customers. Research is proving that omnichannel is the new delivery system for meeting consumer needs. This means touching their customers in as many convenient ways as possible. Currently we are seeing many native digital online retailers open storefronts to broaden their customer’s choice and experience. The traditional storefront retailer is adding online presence to their offering. The omnichannel approach, as well as the shifting shopping patterns of the consumer, is resulting in retailers with large footprints downsizing their store size. Most retailers report up to a 30% increase in sales when they provide omnichannel options to the consumer.
The number of Acadiana dollar stores have nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Nationally, it is reported that there are now more dollar stores than the six largest retailers combined — Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, CVS and Walgreens. Dollar General announced plans to open 975 more stores this year and remodel or relocate another 1,100 stores. Dollar stores are adapting to changing retail by refining their merchandise mix by expanding convenience store-type offerings. They are adding coolers and freezers to stock perishables and other frozen and refrigerated items. More profitable non-consumable lines such as party merchandise, cosmetics and home/seasonal merchandise are also being expanded. Sector retailers report that sales are increasing both from core customers who are making more frequent trips and spending more and from more affluent customers.
One of the major factors impacting growth on the Evangeline Thruway is the future plans for Interstate 49. This Legislature just approved and sent to the governor for approval a $150 million allocation for the I-49 project. The $150 million, if approved, provides potential to leverage federal matching funds. The completion of the I-49 corridor will be transformational for our communities. Being located at a major crossroad with Interstate 10 offers potential for redevelopment of this area. With retail shifting as much as it is, the adaptive reuse of retail is occurring nationwide. Retail space is being converted to medical, education and other uses and is becoming part of the new supply chain logistics shift.
The Opportunity Zone program absolutely has potential to transform distressed areas. In my 30 years in commercial real estate, I’ve not seen anything else that provides the same potential for investment (when done well). When there is alignment of an area need, with a property that would fit that need, often what is needed in distressed areas is incentive to develop there. The first project that is built, or company that is invested in, often becomes the catalyst for future projects and businesses.