By Scott Robertson
Legal recommendations have been presented to Mayors Richard Venable of Sullivan County and Joe Grandy regarding potential bylaw changes for the First Tennessee Development District Foundation, though the mayors are not yet in full agreement on when the foundation will be ready to house a regional economic and community development hub.
“The attorney is helping reformulate the bylaws into a structure that would support a hub or umbrella organization for a regional platform to potentially promote business development and recruitment, workforce development, entrepreneurial development, tourism promotion and regional marketing,” Grandy said Thursday. “We hope to have a meeting very soon to pretty much finalize what that will look like as a starting point for this foundation to support the hub organization.”
Venable said and Grandy will meet next week to discuss any potential changes to what the attorney is recommending, but both say they are confident the hub concept can work within the framework of the foundation.
The foundation has advantages over other ideas that have been discussed as platforms for regional cooperation, Grandy said. “It’s already a 501 (c)(3) that’s fully functional.” That will allow for a public-private partnership to operate within its framework.
“It will still have some ties to the Development District because some of the board members of this new foundation will be board members from the district – local political people, mayors – but then there will also be board members who will be business members or members from the community social sector.”
“The goal of having the foundation structurally able to support this new role will be sometime in the next 30 days or so,” Grandy said, “and then whenever the organization can be built in the hub, I would like to see that by the end of the calendar year.”
Venable says he’s less aggressive in his timeline because he wants to put the idea to a vote of the public sector boards, councils and commissions of the communities that would be represented. “I mentioned this morning (at the Aerospace Park site launch) that the regional cooperation for that involved nearly 100 people (counting all members of the local government bodies that voted to fund the park). This project will involve nearly 400 people. We’ve got a huge task ahead of us.”