Specifically, council members debated the allocated annual salary for the position of director of economic development. This position is held by Shannan Reid, who is also the director of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
According to budget details, the city pays $32,000 to the Chamber for the director’s time and office spent on economic development through the Chamber.
Position 5 Councilmember Dave McCorquodale said the city is "subsidizing the Chamber" due to the overlap in positions, as the MEDC funds portions of major Chamber events like the Wine and Music Fest and the Texian Heritage Festival.
“[Residents] have pointed out over and over the integral role Shannan plays in the Chamber, but economic development is about job creation,” McCorquodale said. “When I look at the amount of jobs we have created in the past five years with the amount of money that we have spent [on the position], I don’t believe the city has spent residents’ tax dollars as wisely as we could.”
Reid obtained the part-time position of director of economic development five years ago when the position was created, City Administrator Jack Yates said. Job responsibilities of the director of economic development include gathering market and trade statistics, forging contacts with businesses and companies, and organizing community events that will increase interest in residential and commercial growth, Yates said.
“[Organizing community events] is one of the overlapping areas of the jobs,” Yates said. “As far as I am concerned, as far as being a director [of MEDC] versus a chair [of the Chamber], she is accomplishing both functions.”
However, McCorquodale and Position 4 Councilmember Rebecca Huss said the MEDC should be facilitating more economic growth and job creation. Huss said Montgomery’s large commercial deals—like Kroger Marketplace and McCoy’s Building Supply—were instigated primarily by developers not the MEDC. Moreover, Huss said negotiations were facilitated through council members and other city employees rather than the MEDC.
Position 1 Councilmember Jon Bickford said the director of economic development's role is to work with and protect small business owners, as well, which is a function he said Reid accomplishes. Bickford recommended the council approve the MEDC budget as is, and revisit the concerns for the FY 2018-19 MEDC budget.
Council members ultimately approved the FY 2017-18 MEDC budget, with the stipulation that further analysis of the MEDC’s role and contribution to the city be evaluated in following MEDC meetings, as well as quarterly reports be submitted to the council.
On Wednesday Reid said one of the roles of an EDC is to attract primary jobs to a community, which she said can be accomplished by improving or preserving the quality of life in a community. In Montgomery, Reid said these amenities help attract new businesses to town.
"[The MEDC] has identified four major goals to encompass their role in this community, and each of those goals includes some aspect of quality of life," she said.
Reid said MEDC responds to all business requests that fit the desired profile for a business in Montgomery, citing prospective businesses that have shown interest in Montgomery Summit Business Park. Furthermore, she said the MEDC can continue to reach out and recruit retail to consider our community, while working on the primary job landscape simultaneously.
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