Councilman encouraged by reaction

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Reaction has been encouraging for a Lewisburg councilman who's coordinating an assembly of elected city and county leaders at Henry Horton State Park where government spending and what people want are chief topics of discussion.

"Economic development is on everybody's mind now," Councilman Steve Thomas said Monday while reflecting on unanimous consent granted by his fellow councilmen for the retreat planned on Nov. 10. "Citizens tell me that they're glad to see the city move in a good direction."

A brainstorming session is planned for that Thursday morning. That afternoon, Thomas anticipates a "guided vision session" with city department leaders.

During an evening program nearly three weeks from now, Thomas has arranged for a discussion with Kingsley Brock, the assistant commissioner of business for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Meanwhile, in another state government step being taken toward lowering the unemployment rate, Lewisburg resident Jamie K. Stitt, the southern middle regional director in the Business Development Division of TDECD is speaking at noon Wednesday, Oct. 26, during a Workforce Employer Outreach Committee meeting at Columbia State Community College, 980 S. Ellington Parkway.

The WEOC is an arm of the state Labor Department. Stitt's topic is Jobs4TN Initiative, an ECD program targeting industries for high quality job development, reducing business regulations and a variety of other goals.

The Nov. 10 morning and evening sessions are to be focused on Lewisburg concerns, Thomas explained.

"As long as it's dealing with the budget," Councilman Robin Minor said last week, "I'm for it."

An examination of census numbers might reveal residents' needs, so Thomas said it might lead councilmen to conclude that more ball fields are needed.

"This is an opportunity for us to sit together, work together, surface some ideas and work on what we want the 2012 budget to look like with input from each department head on what programs they want to begin again, or redirect," Thomas said, "and they'll have the opportunity for discussion with policy makers."

The opportunity includes a time and place to "try things out, hone suggestions and for us to set some priorities, not just on direction, but to include specifics," he said.

Those might include plans as direct as streets that need more repair, he said, listing other potentials, indicating the drawing board is empty and ideas ought to be explored.

And, Thomas said, "We'll have those things available for public viewing."

Invitations to the Nov. 10 programs are being sent to other elected officials and their panels' support staff.

Reaction has already been heard.

"I've spoken with several county commissioners who've said they'll put it on their calendar, or they've said they'll be there, same for some on the school board."