The Victor Valley is missing an estimated 45 percent of its needed retail space, according to Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.

He made the assertion Wednesday at a press conference held at the under-construction Target shopping center on Main Street near Interstate 15.

"This Target center is really a great accomplishment for Hesperia and the Victor Valley," Mitzelfelt said. "Target is proving my point: They know there's a retail market here."

And now, "we have a study that proves it."

The $25,000 High Desert Retail Economy study, commissioned by the county of San Bernardino and released a few days before the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas and a few weeks before a June election in which Mitzelfelt's position is up for grabs, looks at the Victor Valley as a collective unit, rather than by individual municipalities, which is how competing communities typically market themselves.

According to the study, which was conducted by economist John Husing, the Victor Valley has a deficit of 2.57 million square retail footage. In 2007, existing occupied retail square footage was 5.69 million square feet.

Commercial growth typically trails residential growth, and the Victor Valley grew by more than 120,000 residents between 2000 and 2007, making now the time for commercial development, Mitzelfelt said, despite a housing market on life support.

"This is a great time to invest in real estate," Mitzelfelt said. "A savvy business decision maker would choose a time like this to bring retail to the Victor Valley."

With the Victor Valley missing up to a third of its available retailers, according to the study, residents are spending part of the $2.9 billion they do annually elsewhere.

"That's money that could provide local jobs and local sales tax dollars," Mitzelfelt said. According to the study, local communities are missing out on an estimated $288 million in sales tax.

"Our residents deserve the amenities that new retail will bring."

Part of that, Mitzelfelt said, is because retailers typically only look at Hesperia or Victorville or Apple Valley, instead of looking at the Victor Valley as a whole.

"The Victor Valley city boundaries are not shopping boundaries," Mitzelfelt said. "We have more to offer as a region than as any individual jurisdictions."

The full study is available online at Mitzelfelt's 1st District site: http://www.sbcounty.gov/mitzelfelt/

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.