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Farragut’s EDC takes ‘baby steps’ toward branding

Farragut’s Economic Development Committee made small steps toward its goal of branding the Town at its meeting Wednesday, March 3.

Bill Johns, Bluewater Consulting, presented the committee with a packet of its evaluations of Farragut’s strengths and weaknesses, boiled down into value statements, which were translated into “a 30-second elevator pitch.”

The pitch?

“Farragut, Tenn., is an upscale and aesthetically pleasing community with unique shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Farragut is a prime location for national business, regional travel and local accessibility that offers a superior quality of life for all families, generations and interests. Farragut has a sound community government with low taxes, offers quality public and private education institutions and provides convenient access to quality healthcare facilities.”

“Now that we have this, what do we do with it?” committee chair Jim Holladay asked.

The answer wasn’t immediately forthcoming.

Committee members agreed other things would need to be addressed before beginning to brand the Town or change its image.

That includes items as seemingly small as compiling a list of businesses that operate in Farragut, or as large as studying the Town’s urban growth boundary and researching tax opportunities.

Nancy Howard, a stay-at-home mother, said, “We need to be thinking big picture-long term and small picture-short term on everything we do.”

The Town’s urban growth boundary, which outlines the possible areas the Town could annex, was decided in a lawsuit settled in 1986, according to Turkey Creek Land Partners principal Jim Nixon.

The boundary is very small, including parcels of land along Boyd Station Road, off Outlet Drive and near Lovell Road.

Committee members asked Town Administrator David Smoak and Associate Town Administrator Gary Palmer if the Town could research annexation.

“It’s going to take some time, some research and we’re going to have to come up with a plan,” Palmer said.

After discussing expected budget shortfalls, Farragut Wine and Spirits owner David Purvis said, “If we don’t [look at annexation] now … we’ll have to go to a property tax.”

Nixon said the Town should be ready to meet with resistance.

“[Annexation] is not unilateral. If the other side doesn’t agree, you can’t do it,” Nixon said, adding the Town likely would face resistance from landowners and from Knox County.

“And I don’t think we’ll ever be able to expand and take parts of the City,” he added.

Renaissance | Farragut developer R. Knick Myers asked Nixon if he thought resistance would ever change.

Nixon said only if Farragut could convince landowners it would be economically beneficial to have a Farragut address rather than one in Knox County.

“But I think you’ll see suits that say it will decrease the property value,” Nixon said.

Part of the urban growth boundary agreement, Nixon said, was concessions such as the hotel tax: the Town does not receive a hotel tax from any hotels in its boundaries; those taxes go to the City of Knoxville.

Smoak and Palmer said they would research both of those items. Smoak said he believed there was a deadline for the tax agreement and for the urban growth boundary.

Also in the packet were critical areas to address, which include:

• Vacant properties on Town’s main corridors

• Farragut’s lack of control and influence in public schools

• “Good ol’ boys” and “people against change”

• Farragut boundaries being confusing

• Negative relationships with surrounding communities

• Difficulty to do business, contradictory ordinances and Town staff’s bad reputation

Johns said the committee needed to focus on correcting the negative perceptions in those areas.

“We should ask ‘Why is it difficult to do business?’ [and] ‘Why are there contradictory ordinances?’” Johns said.

“We’d be better served by addressing our weaknesses,” he added.


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