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Economic board passes budget

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:16 PM

The Joint Economic and Community Development Board passed its budget for the upcoming fiscal year at its meeting Tuesday.

Upon recommendation of the executive committee, the board approved the budget, which is then sent to the board’s funding agencies, Wilson County and each of the three cities. The county pays about 60-percent of the budget, which is split based on population.

At the executive committee’s December meeting, executive director G.C. Hixson pitched a plan that asked for more than $20,000 to fund a new professional recruitment initiative in Wilson County.

Hixson said the initiative was an additional budget line item of about $25,000, included under the marketing category and was included in the budget passed Tuesday.

The initiative deals with the recruitment and location of professional, or sometimes identified as “white collar” jobs in Wilson County. The proposal was split into two phases with the first to identify and promote the present advantages and opportunities within Wilson County through the development and distribution of specifically designed hard and electronic marketing materials. Part of that phase includes an extensive analysis to be conducted to compare the community’s demographics, educational levels, per capita income, household incomes and other key location factors in an attempt to identify Wilson County’s advantages.

The second phase would involve development of a long-term marketing strategy for the community.

The executive committee also named its officers for the upcoming year with no changes. Nelson Steed will serve as chairman with Don Chambers as vice chairman, Phil Smart as treasurer and Bob Rochelle will remain the board’s attorney.

Also at its December meeting, Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings informed the committee of potential problems with a Tennessee College of Applied Technology locating in Lebanon in the former Wilson County Career Technical Center. He said the Wilson County Board of Education put provisions in a contract with the Tennessee Board of Regents to take over the building at any time it deemed necessary.

The Board of Regents wants a clause in the contract for Wilson County schools to have to pay the state back over a 10-year period for any improvements made to the building should that happen.

Hixson said Jennings, who also serves as school board attorney, told him Tuesday the contract is back in the hands of the Board of Regents after the board made modifications to it.

The JECDB has supported the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Lebanon since it was first proposed. In October, Carol Puryear, associate vice chancellor for instruction and special projects with the Tennessee Board of Regents, told the JECDB executive committee the school would be ready to open in the spring. 

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