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2014-10-02

EDC earmarks $10K for hotel proposal

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Among the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation projects and promotions being proposed for funding in the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget is $10,000 earmarked for a consultant to prepare a Hotel RFP (request for proposal).
This expenditure seemed curious due to the corporation's 2-4 decision in August against approving a Strategic Economic Development Plan as submitted by the Austin-based TXP, Inc., a firm specializing in economic analysis and public policy consulting. At that time, Martha Shoemaker, Joe Hearn, Thomas "Charlie" Fellows and Esther Maldonado voted against the development plan. EDC President Johnny Boyle and Lynn Palmer voted for the plan.
Both the EDC and Bandera City Council had earlier approved appointing an ad hoc committee to devise a plan to jumpstart Bandera's economy. The committee, comprised of bankers Sully Woodland and Roy Thompson, businessmen Don Giles and Gary Johnston and Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert "Bob" Grimes, worked with the EDC's Boyle on the project - of which an RFP for a hotel or motel would certainly have played an integral part.
The EDC held a combo budget workshop and special called meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24. In Boyle's absence, Shoemaker presided over the meeting and members Hearn, Fellows, Maldonado and Palmer attended.
In an email, Shoemaker told the Courier that the intended RFP "is not the same as the feasibility study funded, in part, by EDC several years ago." This study was commissioned when hotel developer Al Rajaibi proposed a 55-room Best Western Hotel for construction on a vacant lot on Main Street. However, after Rajaibi failed to obtain a variance for an off-premises sign, he withdrew his proposal. Half of the prime business location is now the site of a Dollar General store.
Adding that "some information in the study could be used in the RFP package," Shoemaker's email continued, "EDC will work closely with the City and P&Z to identify any incentives available and provide marketing statistics for distribution to hotel chains, franchisers and hotel developers."
Typically, incentives might include tax abatements, necessary variances and waiving utility hookup fees, among others. The idea to fund a consultant to design the RFP apparently came out of an EDC "brain-storming" workshop held the week of Sept. 15, according to both Shoemaker and City Administrator Lamar Schulz. "It was agreed a Hotel RFP would be a good way to attract hotel developers to Bandera," Shoemaker wrote.
The Courier then asked, "Why would any hotel developer come to Bandera after the way the last two were treated?"
Both Rajaibi and, before him, Steve Ball, who currently owns The Mansion in Bandera and The Cabaret, were rebuffed in their attempts to construct the accommodations so sorely needed in the city.
In reply, Shoemaker wrote, "We'll see what happens in November," which seemed to be a not-so-veiled reference to city elections. Currently, Mayor Pro Tem John Hegemier, former Councilman Maggie Schumacher and Bandera businessman Brian Black are running for mayor. As of this writing, council will consist of newcomers Charlotte Browning-Black and Sheila Pumphrey and Jim Hannah, Glenn Clark and Suzanne Schauman.
However, other questions remain to which Shoemaker declined to respond, including whether someone had already been designated to prepare the RFP and would that person or persons receive the entire $10K for putting together a proposal?
A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that an organization posts to elicit bids from potential vendors - typically for the development of a business component or system or the provision of a business service.
In principle, an RFP:
• informs suppliers that an organization is looking to procure and encourages them to make their best effort.
• requires the company to specify what it proposes to purchase. If the requirements analysis has been prepared properly, it can be incorporated quite easily into the Request document.
• alerts suppliers that the selection process is competitive.
• allows for wide distribution and response.
• ensures that suppliers respond factually to the identified requirements
• is generally expected to follow a structured evaluation and selection procedure, so that an organization can demonstrate impartiality - a crucial factor in public sector procurements.
According to Schulz, the EDC would have to identify in open session the consultant they intend to tap to develop an RFP for a hotel to be built within the city limits - and to whom the $10,000 would be paid.
The EDC decision appears to be a direct result of a suggestion by Schauman for the EDC to stop working on a master plan for Bandera City Park and, instead, identify property within the municipality for a hotel site. When queried, Schauman said she did not have any specific property in mind.
However, the EDC decision might put to rest rumors that a small hotel might be in the works for 13th Street across from the Frontier Times Museum.
(Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org and http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com)