Your Opinion: Chamber president responds

This is in response to letters to the editor from Tim Stallman regarding the economic development contract between the City of Jefferson and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. He refers to the agreement as a “black box” and implies there is something sinister about the cooperative agreement. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.

This relationship was established more than 20 years ago as a way to increase resources to attract business as well as encourage community growth and prosperity. Five years ago, the partnership between the city, county and Chamber was enhanced with a new strategic plan, which dedicated $150,000 per year from the city, $150,000 per year from the county and $300,000 per year from the Chamber.

During that period, annual reports were presented to the City Council and County Commission each and every year. The reports explained the use of staff resources and expenses for both economic development purposes and the Chamber’s separate membership-oriented activities.

During that same five-year period the Chamber spent more than $3 million of its own resources to purchase industrial sites and provide infrastructure improvements to prepare them to be “shovel ready” as outlined in the strategic plan. In addition, once again with its own resources, the Chamber built a 50,000 square foot shell industrial building as a part of the strategic plan to attract a business that required an existing building.

Via this partnership, taxpayers have leveraged their $1.5 million with more than $4.5 million of private resources, creating an economic development program that works to enhance our area’s opportunities for growth. This means for every dollar taxpayers invested in the economic development program, the Chamber has invested three dollars.

This economic development partnership and associated contracts are well-known and are discussed with the council and commission in open session at least twice each year: once during the annual report in the first quarter and again each Fall at budget time. In addition, the City Council and County Commission meet with the Chamber periodically to discuss progress, projects and priorities during the year.

The presentation of the 2011 Annual Report to the mayor and City Council will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday March 26 at City Hall and to the County Commission at 9 a.m. on Thursday March 29 at the commission chambers. The public is invited to each session.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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