Town businesses being addressed with EDAC surveys
Could your favorite store or shop in Farragut be close to packing its bags, seeking greener pastures outside of Town limits?
Or, are such problems isolated to only a tiny percentage of businesses unhappy with enforcement, and communication, of Town codes and ordinances?
While a Town of Farragut business recently hosted a sit-down with Farragut Economic Development Advisory Committee leaders to access “the challenges they are facing” attempting to curb businesses fleeing Town limits, the feedback wasn’t
“The manager was actually there, and he did not have very kind things to say about setting up in Farragut,” said Pamela Milliken, a Farragut businesswoman and EDAC vice-chair who has joined with Stephen Krempasky, executive director of Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance, to put together surveys — both on paper and by word of mouth — attempting to contact all Town businesses to hear from those having problems with Farragut codes and ordinances perceived as hindrances.
Part of that process “is an anonymous survey just to get some feedback,” Milliken said during a report to EDAC at its meeting Wednesday morning, Aug. 1, in Town Hall.
“And we want also to find out if they are thinking about leaving us,” she added. “… We don’t want any more empty buildings out there.”
However, Krempasky emphasized the surveys and feedback should be viewed “as opportunities, it’s not all negative stuff.
“This same store manager (referenced by Milliken) likes his business right now and sees growth and wants us,” he added.
“But believe me, the store owners are more happy to talk about the negative than they are the positive things.”
Pinpointing an issue businesses have expressed based on feedback already obtained, Krempasky said, “Getting set up as a business in your first year of dealing with codes people,” he said. “… Trying to get their stores open on time. … The codes issue comes up all the time — every single place I’ve gone.
“And it’s really almost personal,” he added. “They name names. I thought that was kind of interesting.”
Krempasky told EDAC of “a merchant from West End (Avenue) who said he would come and talk frankly with this committee.”
Julie Blaylock, president/CEO of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce, said, “What we’ve heard from some of our member retailers that are in Farragut is that it’s a communication issue. … The comments that we’ve gotten is simply, ‘I wish I had known about it. I feel like certain things weren’t communicated to me clear enough before I started my project.’”
However, Blaylock said, “They’re not unhappy to be in Farragut, they’re not unhappy paying different fees and whatnot that come with permits and things like that. …”
Saying he needs to obtain specifics within the complaints, Town administrator David Smoak added, “The question I always come back to, ‘is it a code issue … is it a contractor issue?’ … and each situation is a little different, probably.”
Concerning Town businesses with such complains, Alderman Louise Povlin asked, “are they aware of their opportunities through Shop Farragut?”