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Board may seek new approach with memberships

Research into the way other economic development board’s in the nation operate has Unicoi County’s board considering changes to their operations.
At a meeting held on Monday, Unicoi County Economic Development Director Tish Oldham said the board’s structure is based on a “simple” model.
“The way this board is set up is rather simple and that’s fine,” Oldham said.
“Most of our positions are appointed. I’ve looked at many different economic development boards and many of them have a structure very similar to what you all do.”
The board is made up of a limited number of appointees, Oldham said.
“Many of the board’s have no more than 12-15 members,” Oldham said.
Membership fees were one of the most discussed changes at the meeting.
Town of Erwin Recorder Randy Trivette brought up the topic of adjusting the fee associated with the county’s joint economic development board’s membership.
“Would that be something, if we went to retail, that you’d want to lower that from $2,000 to $1,000 to hopefully gain more members?” Trivette asked Oldham.
She said lowering the membership rates could put the board at risk for many other obstacles.
“I think that $2,000 is a threshold of seriousness,” Oldham said.
“I tried to give you something to think about with different fees, but the concern that I have is that I don’t want to start competing with the Chamber of Commerce for memberships,” Oldham said.
The ability to manage and maintain diversity of the group gets lost when a board has too many memberships, Oldham said.

For the remainder of this article please see the February 26, 2013 edition of The Erwin Record.