To ‘coordinate’ Town’s economic input sources a $25,000 idea: Povlin

For the third time in a year, Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin has voiced the need for an Economic Development Strategic Plan to help coordinate Town services, and in the upcoming fiscal year budget she is hoping the idea will be funded.

Povlin first mentioned the need during budget talks last year, then again during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s strategic retreat in February. She brought it up yet again Thursday, May 28, during Fiscal Year 2021 Budget discussions prior to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voting to approve it on first reading.

“One thing I want to add — I have brought it up before — one thing I think is missing (from the upcoming budget) is the need to do an Economic Development Strategic Plan,” she said. “The Town has lots of moving parts, with Trevor (Hobbs, assistant to Town administrator David Smoak) and others reaching out to businesses, and with Shop Farragut, Visit Farragut and the Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce, which all have different (components). We haven’t figured out how to coordinate to help existing business.

“I think it would be helpful to have someone to bring us together and to bring together these different boards,” she added. “I would like to see us solidify a strategic plan going forward.”

“I have spoken to (David Smoak) about it, and he thinks we should put $25,000 toward this,” she added, remarking the Board could set aside that amount in the 2021 Budget.

Alderman Scott Meyer agreed with Povlin’s suggestion.

“It’s a phenomenal idea,” he said. “Even being on the Board, I still get confused about which boards are supposed to be building tourism, for example. For me personally, I want to make sure we don’t have duplication of efforts and make sure we are not double-dipping expenses.”

Alderman Ron Pinchok said he thought it was a good idea as well, but said, “this is the first I’ve heard of Vice Mayor Povlin’s idea.

“I would like to take it up at a workshop and have some dialogue about it. I don’t think this (discussion) is the right time to do that, and I’m not sure where $25,000 came up.”

Mayor Ron Williams said he “would have to agree that we workshop this. It’s a great idea. Bringing it all together, but having the right person will be key. We need to all have some input on that.”

“Sooner than later, we really need to understand where we are at and how we will start attracting new businesses,” Povlin said. “But I’m fine with a workshop and budget amendment if that’s what we all think.”