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Town limits on EDC draw little support

A restriction on voting members appointed to the Town’s Economic Development Committee didn’t receive any support from committee members at the group’s meeting Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The restriction would have limited voting board members of other economic development groups from being voting members of the EDC. Almost certainly, it would have meant that four EDC members who also are voting board members of the Farragut Business Alliance would not have been reappointed to the EDC once their terms were up.

“It’s pretty much standard operating procedure for other similar organizations,” Bill Johns, Bluewater Consulting, said.

Johns presented the recommendation as part of the EDC’s draft strategic plan. He said the limitation had been part of feedback he’d received from community members and Town elected officials.

“But I don’t have a dog in this fight. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other,” Johns said.

The strategic plan already calls for the EDC to lower its membership to nine people, and Johns said he’d personally be withdrawing from the committee early next year because of scheduling conflicts.

Committee members weren’t required to vote on the new, recommended restriction, but they did discuss it.

And no one seemed to support it.

“I don’t think that makes sense,” R. Knick Myers, Myers Bros. Holdings, said.

“Where do you start and where do you stop?” he asked.

Myers said a restriction that limits membership because of possible conflicts of interest could eventually be widened to include everyone in the committee — a group of developers, bankers, realtors and small business owners.

Brad Fitch, Volunteer Insurance Services, agreed: “bankers and developers all have a vested interest because they want to see things go vertical.”

Johns said the restriction would apply only to voting board members of the FBA, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership.

There aren’t voting board members from either Chamber on the EDC.

EDC chair Jim Holladay said he’d received similar feedback as Johns — “the concern is that the same group of people will be on all the committees ... just a generic concept.”

Ginny McLain-Tate, BB&T, said, “And I’ll bet that was a comment made by someone who is uninvolved.”

“You have a core group of people because those are the people who care. ... It again goes back to the fact you have a finite number of people willing to commit the time,” she added.

Bettye Sisco, president and CEO of the FWK Chamber, who sits in on EDC meetings as Chamber liaison, didn’t seem to support the restriction either.

She said various FWK Chamber committees also are made up of largely the same group of people “and we haven’t had any problems yet.”

David Purvis, Farragut Wine & Spirits, said the concern was unnecessary because the EDC is only a recommending body — it doesn’t make decisions of its own; it merely makes recommendations to Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

And the Board appoints EDC members.

“Let them do their job at appointing committee members,” McLain-Tate said of the Board.

“And let them use common sense rather than hand down a bunch of constraints,” Myers agreed.

The EDC held a “show of hands” to show support for the restriction.

No one raised a hand.


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