City looks to have ‘good discussion’ on economic development

Jefferson City officials may be looking to have a new discussion on economic development and what that service entails.

At the Council Committee on Administration meeting Wednesday, members revisited a resolution passed by the committee last month that directed the city administrator to open a request for proposals process for economic development services for when the contract with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce expires Oct. 31.

At that time, the Cole County Commission was considering whether to continue contracting with the chamber, citing issues with services outside of city limits. The commission approved a renewal of the contract May 15.

It was during the county’s discussion that, at the city level, 3rd Ward Councilman Ken Hussey offered his resolution to bid out the contractual service, which he said was meant to ensure the most open and transparent process is followed.

But on Wednesday, Hussey said the goal was to have a conversation about economic development in the area and what the city expects out of economic development services, and that discussion may be better suited for the fall and winter, after the city finishes budget discussions for the 2015 fiscal year.

“My intent and goal is just for us to have a good discussion on economic development,” Hussey said.

Hussey said the request for proposals process can be long and, if the city starts discussions in the fall, they can renew the current contract for 2015 and be ready to seek competitive bids, if that’s the council’s choice, for 2016.

Fourth Ward Councilman Glen Costales suggested having a joint meeting with county officials where both entities could look at the outside groups they contract with and eliminate any duplication of services. That way, he said, the two entities could contract as one cohesive area for economic development or lobbying services.

The chamber received $185,000 from Jefferson City and $150,000 from the Cole County for economic development services in the current budget year, and each contract must be renewed annually.

The committee allowed the resolution approved last month to be withdrawn.

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