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EDA asks for cooperation from tourism group

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By Calen McKinney

A committee has been formed to help build coordination between local economic development and tourism entities.

Mark Johnson, chair of the Taylor County Economic Development Authority, addressed magistrates at Tuesday night's regular Fiscal Court meeting about the relationship between the Economic Development Authority and the Taylor County Tourist Commission.

Johnson told magistrates that the EDA works well with the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce, Fiscal Court and the members of the Campbellsville County Council.

However, he said, the EDA needs more input from the Tourist Commission and the EDA asks that the Court help in creating a more cooperative spirit with the commission.

"We need a little better input with the tourism commission," he said. "And I'm asking you gentlemen to maybe help in refocusing and looking at ... what we need to do in providing a better cooperative spirit within that organization."

He said he chose to address the Court about the issue because the Tourist Commission reports directly to the Court.

"I've not had a whole lot of success in chatting with those folks and really I was just hoping for some intervention basically."

Johnson said he thinks there is money being spent separately by the EDA and Commission that could be joined together.

The Court appoints members to the Tourist Commission Board, which collects money from a hotel tax.

"I think it is paramount that we try to work together and try to coordinate some of those dollars," Johnson said.

Magistrate Richard Phillips asked if there is a way to get the EDA and Tourist Commission together and begin a dialogue between the two.

"Surely we can all sit down and talk," Phillips said.

Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said the Tourist Commission is a separate entity and any action taken on Johnson's request is up to the Court.

Phillips said he realizes the two are separate entities.

"But at least they could talk," he said.

Johnson told the Court he had requested some information two weeks ago from the Tourism Commission, pursuant to Kentucky's Open Records Law, and has not yet heard from the Commission.

According to state law, open records requests are to be answered within three business days.

Johnson said he is not asking that the Court overtake the Commission, only for help in establishing a more coordinated effort between EDA and the Commission.

Magistrate James Jones said he thinks there certainly should be coordination between the two entities.

Rogers asked if Jones and Phillips would be willing to work with him in helping the EDA and Tourist Commission coordinate efforts.

Magistrates agreed to appoint Jones, Phillips and Rogers to form a committee to address Johnson's request.

Johnson also told magistrates that he has been asked to research the incentives a neighboring county gave to a new business to attract it.

He said his best estimate is that somewhere between $750,000 and $1 million in incentives were given to the company.

"As I said at the last meeting, capital is king right now and companies are certainly looking for areas where they can get free capital, i.e. incentives."

Phone calls and an e-mail to reach Taylor County Tourist Commission Executive Director Marilyn Clarke before press time were not returned.

Also at the meeting:

- Team Taylor County Executive Director Ron McMahan told magistrates that he has been working with a new company that hopes to begin operating in Campbellsville since February 2006.

He said the business deal is now only one signature away from being completed and he hopes to have an announcement about the company purchasing a 48,000-square-foot building in the next few weeks.

He said the EDA will have a tour in August after its Board meeting to allow the Court, the Campbellsville City Council and the public to see the progress being made on the construction of the Heartland Commerce and Technology Park.

See Monday's issue for more on action taken by Taylor Fiscal Court.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.