Most of the attention at Thursday’s budget workshop for the Decatur Economic Development Corp. (EDC) focused on making sure the dollars earmarked for recruiting new businesses are well-spent.
Executive Director Jody Adams told the board about a couple of items in next year’s marketing budget that should provide valuable contacts for the city as it works to attract jobs and build the area’s economic base.
The “Texas 1″ program gives EDCs around the state access to industrial recruiting efforts run through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Adams said being part of the program opens doors that most smaller cities would never be able to open by themselves.
Adams also proposed the EDC participate in at least one such trip with the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, which contacts prospects nationwide and shows them communities and facilities throughout the area. And statewide conferences through the Texas EDC organization also provide valuable contacts and opportunities.
All of these things cost money, and Adams and his board are careful that Decatur’s EDC money, which comes from a half-cent on the sales tax, is well-spent.
“Do we have to do these things? No, we do not,” Adams said. “It’s a process for me. I’m just looking for what do we want the EDC to be – what’s best for Decatur, what’s a good fit for us.”
Adams will send the board a memo prior to final budget approval with more detail regarding dues, travel expenses and other costs involved with these programs. All agreed that the cost of participation is, and should be, more than just “means and entertainment” in a line item.
“We don’t want to be lemmings, but these are some of the things other EDCs do,” Adams said.
The discussion of recruitment led to a discussion of Decatur’s industrial park – and to the conclusion that more land and more building space for potential recruits should be a high priority in the next few years.
“I don’t think we’re going to make much progress [on recruitment] until we have some land,” board member Roy Eaton said.
Adams and other board members agreed.
“To be real honest, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do some of this if you don’t have a good place to put them,” he said.
Following the budget discussion, the board kicked off its regular meeting by swearing in returning member Jay Davidson and new member Jason Wren, then reappointing the same slate of officers with Andrew Sandford returning as president, Davidson as vice president and Martin Woodruff as secretary-treasurer. Davidson, Woodruff and Wren are all city council members.
The board heard a positive financial report from City Manager Brett Shannon regarding sales tax collections so far this year. It was also noted that the Civic Center is doing much better on collections and that bookings are strong for the coming months.
One of the expenses approved was a $3,000 grant to help cover the expenses of a Weatherford College Wise County grand opening gala the evening of Sept. 22 at the new campus on U.S. 380 near Bridgeport. The Bridgeport EDC had agreed to put in another $3,000, and the Chico EDC will add $1,000 to cover the $7,000 cost of the event so all proceeds can go into the college’s scholarship program for Wise County students.
The new campus opens for students in August.