The idea of Manchester forming its own economic development/industrial board resurfaced at Tuesday, May 7’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. It was put to a vote and passed unanimously.
The Greater Manchester Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) will have to be charted by the state before it can be formed. The commission would be modeled after Tullahoma’s economic development corporation.
“David Pennington petitioned the BOMA to begin the process of forming an ECD Industrial Board,” explained Manchester’s Executive Administrative Assistant Sage Keele in an email. “The state requires three electors of the City of Manchester, which are not required to sit on the soon to be newly formed ‘Greater Manchester Economic Development Corporation.’ David Pennington addressed the BOMA for the three individuals, and his signature is one of the three petitioning the BOMA. Haylee Eaton and Thomas White are the other two electors of the City of Manchester.”
If formed, Manchester’s board would have no less than seven members, explained city attorney Gerald Ewell.
“This is not a move to separate ourselves from the county or the joint industrial board whatsoever,” alderman Ryan French emphasized.
The city would still be involved in the Coffee County Industrial Development Board – the nine member board has three representatives each from Manchester, Tullahoma and rural Coffee County and is responsible for recruiting local industry and maintaining relationships with companies in the Coffee County industrial parks.
French envisions the board being like the Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corporation (TAEDC).
However Vice Mayor Bill Nickels, who is a Tullahoma citizen and taxpayer, pointed out the TAEDC isn’t as active as French may believe – the only project he is aware of is the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program (TIF grant) that funded infrastructure for Publix.
“I think as a citizen and as a taxpayer of Tullahoma also, I don’t think (Tullahoma’s board) has been much of a thing,” Nickels said. “Now, I’m not saying I’m against this, I think it’s alright to have this, but to think it’s something wonderful, it’s going to make the world different – it ain’t going to change anything except for those once in a very wild, who knows when time, when it comes to handling it.
“The things that had been done in Tullahoma could have been done through the Coffee County Industrial Board just the same. I don’t want to throw water on it, I just don’t want people to think this is going to be some sort of magic that’s coming to our town. It’s not magic – it’s just a thing. It’s another board, it’s another group of people who are meeting. It’s good to have, but it’s not a game changer, I don’t think,” he concluded.
French disagreed and said the people on the board make the difference.
The board is free to establish and maintain.
The City of Tullahoma has two industrial boards in place, in addition to the joint Coffee County Industrial Board: TAEDC and the Tullahoma Industrial Development Board, which began before the joint county board.
TAEDC was formed in 2010. Members include Lynn Sebourn, chairman; David Bond, vice chairman; Dennie Crabtree; Molly King; John McCord; Eugene London; Jackie Duncan; and one open chair, according to the city’s website.