EDC to receive professional assistance

The Italy Economic Development Corporation (EDC) forged into a partnership with David Miracle, an economic development consultant, at its monthly meeting held Monday night in city council chambers.

Miracle, a resident of Ovilla, contacted the city and asked to be on the agenda after learning about the local EDC and its search for professional assistance.

Miracle said that it is easy for the EDC members and city council to get pessimistic about what they cannot do for the citizens. He said the community he lives in has no hotels, no restaurants, no banks, no grocery store, a school district split between two school districts and a struggling downtown. Miracle drove through the community and noted that communities the size of Italy do not have a motel, the number of eating establishments located here, a grocery store. He said there were a number of commercial sites available along I-35E and the downtown area is vibrant in comparison to other similar-sized communities.

He stressed the purpose of the EDC board is to assist in bring new dollars into the economy by bringing in new business or expanding existing businesses.

As an example, Miracle said the EDC could spend money on parks. The EDC purpose is to bring in money and jobs. Parks not only cost money to construct, they create a continual expenditure with maintenance.

He said the EDC needs a planned out approach to be successful. The board needs to set policies and prepare a database of vacant buildings, among other things. He said there needed to be someone to attend meetings and work with commercial brokers. That, he said, is when a professional is necessary.

Hiring a full time staff member will cost most of the EDC budget. A consultant can work to piece-mill a smaller EDC.

Mark Stiles, president, asked that Miracle bring a proposal to the next meeting in order to facilitate a community meeting. The community meeting would consist of school board, city council, county judge and county commissioner, Italy Ministerial Alliance and other community leaders. Plans are to have the meeting in late June or July.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the IYAA coaches asked that the EDC provide the funds to rebuild a concession stand and restrooms at Upchurch Park. Construction costs range between $20,000 and $25,000.

Diego Garcia asked why this could not be a park board project.

Mark Souder Sr. said this is a prime project for the EDC noting that it will build confidence with the citizens. The existing facility, he said, is shameful.

Elmerine Bell said she is pro-children but re-emphasized the EDC is designed to bring new business into the city and to promote tourism. She said there were other areas the money could be used more effectively.

Stiles said he felt the EDC was not the group to approach for this project. He did offer, however, to give the city a $12,500 personal check if the city could raise the other half of the funds.

In other business, the board approved the existing EDC by-laws and adopted the federal per diem and mileage rates. The board also reviewed the annual audit. They asked that a representative be present at the next meeting to review the audit.

The board took no action regarding management administration.

The next meeting of the EDC will be Monday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m.