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Town’s EDC lists Farragut’s perceived strengths, weakness

Farragut’s Economic Develop-ment Committee nailed down perceived strengths and weaknesses of the Town, but expressed some self-doubt over what, exactly, its next move should be at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Nancy Howard, a stay-at-home mom, asked if the committee were premature with small projects such as surveys and with deciding on a brand.

What the Town really needed, she said, was a vision.

“A brand is not ‘This is where we are today so this is just where we are,’” Howard said. Instead, she said, a vision could be established that would lead the Town to the brand it wishes to portray.

As an example, she cited Chattanooga’s transformation and how it attracted new businesses and led the city to its current brand.

“Does a brand come before a plan or does a plan come before a brand?” David Purvis, owner of Farragut Wine and Spirits, asked.

“We have to start building a framework,” Bill Johns, Bluewater Consulting LLC, said.

Johns said the next step, after identifying strengths and weaknesses, would be attaching message statements to those: how each point differentiates the Town, and how to talk about that differentiation.

“What is the messaging [now]? It’s confusing,” Johns said.

“I get a message in this community we don’t want anything but retail,” Purvis said.

Alderman and homebuilder Bob Markli said the group should begin steering in the direction of long-term planning.

Developer R. Knick Myers said the committee was limited in what it could implement anyway; its focus would have to be on visioning.

“This committee can’t take us where we need to go, but we can say where we want to go in the next 20 years,” he said.

“Somebody is going to have to implement this stuff,” Johns agreed.

In most towns, an EDC group would be part of a Chamber, or would have a budget, Johns said. Here, the group could vision, but staff would have to implement changes.

With new elected officials, a new Town Administrator [David Smoak] and “Gary’s [Palmer, interim Town administrator] help, we’re going to have a lot of momentum,” Johns said.

In other business, the group finalized eight perceived strengths of the town of Farragut:

• Location (nearness to cultural and transportation hubs)

• Quality of life (parks, climate, activities, etc.)

• Low tax environment (including the Town’s sound infrastructure and financial condition)

• Retail opportunities (both broad spectrum and including Turkey Creek)

• Convenient, quality healthcare

• High aesthetic standards of an establish, upscale community

• Historic venues (such as Farragut Folklife Museum and Campbell House)

• Availability of quality schools

The committee also finalized six perceived weaknesses:

• Difficulty to do business in the Town (seemingly contradictory ordinances and the bad reputation of staff)

• Vacant properties along main corridors

• Lack of control with Knox County Schools system

• A faction of well-connected people in the Town who oppose everything

• Confusing Town boundaries

• Negative relationships with surrounding communities and entities

Johns advised the group that, in the future, the lists would be revised to specifics, for example saying “exits off I-75/40” instead of “location.”

The committee will next meet at 8 a.m., Wednesday, March 3.


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