FARMINGTON — A straw poll vote of 5-3 has put the idea of developing a town economic development committee on hold. The vote was taken at an informational meeting Tuesday at the Municipal Building.
About a dozen residents, businessmen and members of local organizations joined selectmen to discuss the potential for forming a committee.
“People didn’t feel the need for this committee,” selectmen Chairman Ryan Morgan said Wednesday morning. He called for the vote after about an hour of discussion. “I would have liked to see more people there,” he said. Some people left the meeting before the straw poll was taken.”
Based on the discussion, Morgan said he could see the subject back on the table and brought before a larger group.
What Morgan said he perceived from the discussion was a “need to bridge the gap of all groups,” including the Greater Franklin Development Corp., the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and the Farmington Downtown Association.
“An economic development committee could do that,” he said.
The purpose of forming the committee was to work on growing business and increasing the population in Farmington, Morgan told those at the meeting. The focus of the committee would be on Farmington; it would not be in competition with Greater Franklin Development Corp.’s countywide focus.
The committee would offer assistance to new businesses. A committee made up of community people would provide information to help business owners decide to come to Farmington. The committee could also help steer town officials in making decisions that can help prospective businesses, and it could bring different perspectives and experiences together, he said.
In response to concerns about confidentiality needed by a business considering a local location, Morgan said, “(The committee) wouldn’t reach out to a company in Texas to bring a business here.”
Selectman Jessica Berry said the committee could be a brainstorming group.
Selectmen have worked to stabilize the sewer rate and the hook-up rate, develop a new website for the town, develop brochures and apply for the state “business friendly” status, Morgan said.
“We’re trying to think of different things to sell our community,” Morgan said.
Business owner James Bouffard suggested a lack of cohesiveness in efforts. “Everyone has to stick together; this is Farmington,” he said.
Stephan Bunker said he researched the economic development work done by Greater Franklin Development Corp. and was hesitant to launch a new venture without knowing how the committee would work and connect with existing organizations.
Some seemed to want to rely on the work of Greater Franklin Development Corp. and thought the committee would compete, Morgan said.
“It’s not a competition,” he said. “We’re all responsible for Farmington and could work together and co-exist.”