The City of Monroe is making the Economic Development Advisory Board a permanent body, and is seeking more volunteers.
Mayor Geoffrey Thomas will review applications and make recommendations on Oct. 9 to the Monroe City Council, which will have to approve the nominees, according to a city news release.
“This board is vital for our city’s economic success,” Thomas said in the release. “The Board will be responsible for providing recommendations on issues such as business recruitment and retention; tourism promotion and marketing; and business growth and development.”
An initial temporary board met for about six months starting in January. Its formation was part of a broader strategy to make economic development a greater priority for the city. Thomas and city administrator Deborah Knight worked together to develop its direction.
Knight said at the time that concrete approaches for carrying out projects listed in the city’s comprehensive plan have been somewhat absent from the documents.
The concept to include residents in the process first came up during meetings with the city’s department heads. They agreed that asking the community to weigh in on priorities would bring a wider range of perspectives to the discussion.
The initial 11-member board was tasked with figuring out how the city could turn priorities from the comprehensive plan into actionable goals. Board suggestions were needed by the start of the city’s 2019 budget planning cycle, which is now underway.
“The creation of the economic development advisory board will help support the goals and priorities the board identified earlier this year,” Thomas said in the release.
For this next round, the city is asking for people to apply who have a variety of experiences and irons in the fire. They want managers and owners with “expertise in retail, commercial, professional, recreation/tourism, lodging, commercial real estate and homebased businesses throughout the city,” according to the release.
Many of those who applied for the first board wrote in their applications they wanted to contribute to the city’s growth and help build a strong economy.
“I would like to see Monroe become a healthy, thriving community that draws people into its downtown core to experience culture and enrichment,” Monroe Historical Society president Tami Kinney wrote.
The group saw some opposition at its start. Councilmember Jim Kamp, who ran against Thomas in last year’s mayoral race, has referred to the board as a “study group.” He believes a more robust commission will be needed to affect real change in the city.
The new board will meet monthly, according to the release. Initial appointments will be staggered, with terms not to exceed four years.
The deadline to apply is Friday, Sept. 14. For more information, contact Knight at 360-863-4500 or email@example.com.
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