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EDC proposed ‘Strategic Plan’ has punch (lists)

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed the final draft of the Economic Develop-ment Committee’s strategic plan at a workshop, Thursday, Jan. 13.

Primary strategic plan author Bill Johns told the Board, “This is a marathon without end. These are areas we need to not only build a foundation, but to move on.”

He presented the Board with three punch lists — items the EDC would be responsible for, items the Board would be responsible for and items Town staff would be responsible for.

Topping the Board punch list is annexing the Town’s urban growth boundary, which includes Old Concord and areas along Kingston Pike near Lovell Road, as well as areas along Outlet Drive.

“We think you should take an aggressive approach to annexation,” Johns said.

Seizing hotel/motel taxes — which the Town currently does not do — also ranked high, as did establishing a visitor’s center, updating the Town’s website and installing new Town entrance signs.

Two of those punch list items are in fact already underway: the Town’s new entrance signs are in the design stage, and Farragut has hired a new designer to update its website.

Town staff had another punch list, which included establishing a “Doing Business in the town of Farragut” guide, enacting a business license, creating a “major events” calendar, updating the community cable channel and undergoing customer service training.

Johns also encouraged the Board to follow up with branding the Town, and creating a uniform trademark that could be used across the board for Town events.

“We want to empower the Town on the overall brand,” Johns said.

“This is a lot of data that cannot be implemented overnight. Some of these things can be done in an hour. Some of them will take two years,” he added.

Mayor Ralph McGill agreed.

“To figure out what we want to do [first] and then do it will take more than a year,” McGill said.

He asked Town administrator David Smoak to return to EDC and have them come up with what they perceived as the six most critical areas, the things that needed to be addressed first, and then return with that list. He asked Board members to rank their top six goals as well.

Johns, who has stepped down from EDC, also told Board members about the EDC’s desire to lower its membership numbers from 17 to nine through attrition, and its goal of eventually having only members with business expertise.

Alderman Jeff Elliott said he was concerned with that change, saying the Board put a lot of thought into the makeup of the committee, especially with including members who have little to no business experience — people who are simply residents of the Town.

“It was very slow. We had a lot of people,” Johns told him of the early months after the EDC was established. Since then, membership has dropped to 13.

“So efficiency is the reason?” Elliott asked.

“Efficiency, and delegation, just getting things done,” Johns said.

Alderman Bob Markli, a member of the EDC, pointed out other Town committees — such as the Stormwater Advisory Committee — have even more stringent qualifications on their membership.

But Elliott said he was struck with the lack of “the customer” in the “voluminous document”’ that is the EDC strategic plan.

“At the end of the day, are we about community and inclusiveness, or are we about racing from point A to point B as fast as we can?” he asked.

The Board will vote on the EDC strategic plan at a future Board meeting.


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