CAVE CITY — One item of discussion during the Barren County Economic Authority’s administrative and personnel committee meeting Friday was the possible need for training.
Gary Hartell, board chairman, suggested it would be a good idea to have a training session at the start of each fiscal year.
“I think we should probably do some training with the open records statutes as written, and remind everybody about those and go through those confidentially and anti-trust statements, along with all the other procedures we have in place just to get everybody all started on the right path,” he said.
Maureen Carpenter, executive director of BCEA, explained that when she was with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, which contracts to handle economic development services in Warren County, they typically would have an annual board of directors retreat right before the start of the fiscal year.
They would receive policies, the confidentiality and anything that needs a signature. They also invited officials with planning and zoning to come and talk to the board, she said.
The committee discussed having a private individual to do the training, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which will do training for free.
“I think TVA will do a great job on the industrial park piece. I’ve done that with them several times,” Carpenter said. “I did that with them in Metcalfe County and in Butler County. And then we can review our policies and open meetings law.”
As for planning, Hartell said he thought Carpenter had done a great job.
Carpenter gave the committee copies of vision and mission statements she wrote and said the board will likely want to approve them at the retreat.
The committee also discussed the agencies’ policies and Carpenter said they should want them to be written in a way that will get Glasgow and Barren County recognized and entice business and industry leaders to want to do a site visit.
She used Bowling Green as an example and said: “Our policies, the way we had the Cabinet (for Economic Development) to come to us and ask us to create presentations for them to use at conferences when they went to other communities. We want that to happen (here).”
She continued that a lot of times when project managers do a site visit they wind up taking control of the meeting.
“When they come here, they know it’s Maureen’s site visit and you want to be that example that they want to say, ‘Hey, can you help us do a presentation on this?’ To get there you have to be dedicated to your job and to your community and you have to be productive,” she said. “You can’t sit in the office and do nothing all day.”
The committee also reviewed the agency’s action plan.
The action plan consists of four initiatives: Existing Business Retention and Expansion; New Business Attraction; Property Development; and Operations.
“It is a weird time with all of the stuff going on and I suspect there’s going to be more bankruptcies and businesses, especially with the small retail closing before we’re done here,” Hartell said. “You can’t shut down the economy. Not everybody is going to survive that, so we’ve got our work cut out for us for sure.”
He also said BCEA has a key task involved in that strategy in visiting the existing companies, providing support and expertise and engaging in communication.
Carpenter said she has been communicating with plant managers daily. She had an in-person meeting scheduled for March with them, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was cancelled and will now likely take place in August.
“We have created an incentive profile, so when they start coming back and businesses are going, they’ll have that information readily available to them,” she said. “We are going to send that out next week. They are still dealing with unemployment. They are dealing with some shifts on and some shifts off and things like that. We are trying not to bug them too much but to let them know we are here if they need us.”
Barren County Magistrate Mark Bowman, committee member, asked if there were any businesses that had returned to full operation after having been closed due to the pandemic.
“We had several that never stopped,” she said. “Akebono, they only have about 90 that are still not back to work. Nemak, they are the ones that haven’t called back. They are kind of on and off.”
Others are working a couple of weeks and then will shut down a week, she said.
Some companies, like Vanguard and Spantech, they stated open during the pandemic, Carpenter said.
The committee also discussed a capital campaign to raise funding for economic development, so that the agency will have funding to market and do property development.
The agency had planned to start fundraising in March, but due to the pandemic and businesses being closed it was not a good time to go ask businesses for money, she said.
“The finance committee has been discussing this in their meetings. When is the appropriate time? Who are some people who would potentially want to invest? How would we put that into our budget? Because we don’t know. We were hoping we would be done and we would know for next year how much money we had, but I think we’re going to kick this off in July,” Carpenter said.
There is one business that is investing. She received an email on Thursday from the company’s officials, but said she didn’t want to say which company it was or the amount. She did say that it will be discussed at the next board meeting.
“We will announce that in July and that will kind of be our kick-off to go and start setting up meetings and having those discussions and doing the fundraising,” she said.
The agency’s board is scheduled to meet on Friday via videoconference.