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Commishes ISO Bandera Regional Partnership liaison

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a meeting on Thursday, April 14, Bandera County Commissioners Court debated appointing a liaison or representative to the newly formed steering committee of the newly minted Bandera Regional Partnership.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes has been instrumental in the organization’s formation with an aim to facilitating economic development in the city and county. He told his colleagues that the process, which was initiated approximately six months ago, had been followed by a second meeting in February, which was attended by 80 “leaders and stakeholders in the community.”
Anticipating the countywide collaborative effort would improve economic opportunities, Grimes explained, “Our goal is to create a new economic growth organization to seek Bandera-friendly businesses and to assist with the expansion of existing businesses.”
The steering committee would serve as the initial governing arm of the Bandera Regional Partnership. It should, according to Grimes, include representation from “each major geographic and organizational stakeholder group, including – but not limited to – governmental bodies, volunteer organizations, businesses, trade organizations and homeowners associations."
As part of the committee’s mandate, Grimes anticipated a one-year timeline would be developed to include a mission statement, by-laws and budget, among other necessities. “We don’t anticipate duplicating current efforts,” he noted.
After perusing the action plan included in commissioners’ packets, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris said, “I see the action plan calls for hiring a CEO (chief economic officer) by April 2017.” Addressing the elephant in the room, Harris asked, “What funding source will pay for the CEO?”
“We have no funds at the present, but we plan to go to the city and county to seek funding to support the effort,” Grimes replied. He also made it clear that the Bandera Regional Partnership would have to “lean heavily” on the members of the steering committee.
Grimes also noted that two unnamed organizations had agreed to interim funding for the endeavor. “If this is successful, next year we’ll ask the court for funding.” However, he indicated that prior to making that request, the steering committee would need to have a solid business plans and budget and “all their ducks in a row.”
Current members of the steering committee include Brian Brockel of Bandera Electric Cooperative; City of Bandera Mayor John Hegemier; Bandera Economic Development Chairman Martha Shoemaker; Johnny Boyle, Bandera business-at-large; Sully Woodland and Roy Thompson, banking businesses at large; Don Giles, real estate and financial business at large; Homer Stevens, tourism business at large; Bandera County Chamber of Commerce Jaki Perkins; Nancy MacMillan, Lakehills; Kathleen McKenzie Owen, Pipe Creek; Glenda or Tom Slaughter, Vanderpool; and Mandy Barton, Medina. A representative from the nonprofit community remains pending.
Highlights of the one-year action plan include:
• Develop budget, April 2016
• Develop a regional five-year business plan, May 2016
• File article of incorporation and nonprofit status, May 2016
• Create master list of donors, July 2016
• Kickoff breakfast with major keynote speaker and ask participants to make five-year pledges, October 2016
• Launch search for director-CEO, February 2017
• Hire CEO, April 2017
“We need to select a liaison from the court,” said County Judge Richard Evans.
“The representative doesn’t have to be from the court, just someone to represent the interest of the county,” Grimes said.
Although he seemed a natural to represent the county, Grimes indicated that if he were not selected to represent the court, he would still have a seat on the steering committee as a member at large.
County Attorney Janna Lindig queried about the purpose of the court appointing a representative to an entity that is still being organized.
“That way he could report back to us with information,” Evans said.
Grimes added, “The group wanted commissioners court to be represented.”
“I have no problem having Mr. Grimes represent the court,” Evans said. “Once the group is established we can reconsider the choice. This isn’t a lifetime appointment.”
However, the motion made by Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson failed by a 2-2 vote with Grimes abstaining. Harris and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jordan “Jody” Rutherford voted against Grimes’ appointment with Evans and Wilkerson casting votes in favor.
With the court’s appointment to the Bandera Regional Partnership steering committee now pending, the court decided to postpone a decision for a month, giving them time to “come up with options.”
Meanwhile, the nascent Bandera Regional Partnership joins the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation, Bandera Business Association, the fledgling Vision 4 Bandera and the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce entities chrged with fostering business growth within the city and county.