Group hears about bylaws, work plan

Economic Development commissioner Kevin Hatfield discusses an update to the bylaws.

The Huntsville Economic Development and Tourism Commission last week heard about updates to the bylaws and the work plan.

Commissioner Kevin Hatfield has been updating both of the items. The commission has been working with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the state’s Competitive Communities Initiative Evaluation. Part of that requires bylaws for the local commission, which Hatfield wrote.

Many parts of the work plan have been completed over the years, Hatfield said. He has added a mission statement to the plan, and asked other commissioners to bring more ideas to the table.

“Then bring them to me next month and we’ll be able to incorporate and we’ll start 2020 with an updated plan,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield also wrote a business retention/expansion survey he would like to see sent out in 2020. The two-page survey – a requirement for the CCIE – has sections such as Business Information, Business Climate, Employment, Future Plans, and Needs and Opportunity Assessment.

“This does no good if we don’t get 40-plus of these back,” Hatfield said. “The whole idea is we’ve got to convince folks how important this is.”

Chairman David Pemberton said, “We’re basically saying ‘help us help you,’” to which Hatfield answered, “That’s exactly what we’re doing.”

All agreed that the survey needs to be sent out in cooperation with the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce.

Economic Development Director Nancy Marsh said AEDC officials clarified items needed for the state assessment. Smaller towns can’t afford a consultant to create a Targeted Industry Survey, which Hatfield said can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Instead, smaller towns can use state data and create a narrative. Marsh said that, regarding funding, AEDC stresses operational and incentives created by towns.

Marsh said the operational part would include the commission and expenses it has. The incentives part would include the purchase of land for an industrial park, money spent on the Basham building and other projects.

In other business:

• Marsh said she has spoken with the manager of Subway on North Gaskill, who said the eatery will close once a new one is completed along the Highway 412 bypass.

Hatfield and commissioner Matt Smith said the Gaskill location is a good location for a small eatery since it is located near several schools.

• The winning logo from a recent contest will be presented to the city council at its Nov. 11 meeting. Marsh said, “I like the new one. I wish everybody would use it. I don’t know if they will.”

• The commission authorized Marsh to check on prices to establish an app so that the city’s new website can be downloaded onto mobile devices.

• Several upcoming events were announced, including the annual Lighting On The Square. It will be held on Friday, Nov. 22, at 6 p.m. The annual Christmas Parade is planned for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The commission next will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

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