County Chamber, Economic Boards Propose Merger



A proposal to possibly merge the Weakley County Economic Development office with the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce is moving forward after a discussion among community members on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 in downtown Martin.

Dubbed the “organization restructure” committee, with representatives from the Chamber Board of Directors and Economic Development Board, a recommendation was made that would eventually combine the two entities. The goals, according to committee moderator Bobby Goode, are to improve the efficiency of the organizations and provide for better accountability.

The committee was tasked to develop a recommendation into the flow and set up of a merged organization. Under the recommended organizational chart, an Executive Board would be created with seven members. The Chamber Board and Economic Development Board could recommend three members each to serve on the board, with the seventh member appointed by Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum. Discussion focused around having each municipality represented on the overall Executive Board.

The Executive Board would have the initial responsibility of creating new by-laws governing the entity. Once those are in place, the organizational chart recommends an Executive Director play the leadership role in assigning tasks for the proposed Chamber of Commerce Committee, Chamber Director, Administrative Assistant and Economic Development Committee. Under those positions would be working committees for the two entities.

Goode emphasized the organizational chart and ideas are just recommendations, with further study needed regarding funding, committee appointments, department name and operational setup.

City mayors, county commissioners and members of both boards were at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think this would eliminate duplication of effort ... Cities would demand accountability for monies spent,” Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn commented.

“We hope one thing that is gained from this is accountability. If we have accountability, we will have better communication,” Hal Bynum, Chamber committee representative said.

The committee also recommended slimming of the boards represented in both entities. Weakley County District 5 Commissioner mentioned an apparent lack of communication between the organizations.

By trimming committees to a smaller number, 10 for example, Alex Bynum suggested there would be a more cohesive group, with all groups reporting to one Executive Board.

As questions surfaced, Goode reminded those on hand the recommendations must be approved by the Weakley County Economic Development Board and the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He stressed the recommendation does not eliminate existing employee positions.

As cities have already financially committed to their inter-local agreements with the Economic Development department, there is not an expectation to commit additional funds to the possible merger in the current fiscal year.

The WCEDB will meet Thursday morning, when members might see the recommendation discussed Tuesday. The Chamber Board has a meeting set the third Tuesday of August.