We're a small town. About 2 years ago, the Town Board created an Economic Development Committee, of which I was orignally a citizen volunteer and then I became Chair after obtaining employment with the town and now I serve as staff liason. We're made up of about 8 people, all citizens of the town. Orignally the committee lacked direction and had an unmotivated leader, in 2008, I breathed some life into the committee getting a stronger base and then released it to the citizens, with one of them as chair. We have accomplished a couple of minor things in the field of promoting local businesses, but nothing substantial. Part of this is due to the local economy, but after last night, I believe part of this is due to leadership which includes myself, the Chair and the Town Board but also most of the committee members seem to have joined to say they are on a volunteer board...yet they do not do anything.
Last night we met for July. All who showed up was the Chair and myself. We had a talk about the committee. He proposes ideas (some better than others) but there has been no follow through. On the ideas that work, he and one other member do the leg work for it with no help from anyone else. Bottom line, we need to get something done or he is out.
Afterwards, I had a chance to reflect (with the help of a measure of scotch) on the committee. First, the Board created us to "do economic development", but we haven't a clear and concise direction from them as to exactly what they want us to do. We have a handsome budget, but without direction from the Board, I am reluctant to spend $$ from it for every random idea.
Another is the fact that I can provide a bridge between the town and the committee, but I am very busy with numerous GIS project, zoning enforcement, and counter duties. It is hard for me to follow up and frankly, Econ. Dev. falls to a lower position.
But another is the apathy of the volunteers. Seems they are apt to show up to the one meeting a month (except for July), but I rarely even get conversation from them during the meeting and no one volunteers for work. The couple of people that do volunteer are now reluctant to do so because they feel that others should share the load (rightly so, IMO).
So, what will help this? A clear action plan? Work that gets done? Recognition for contributing members? Are there any successful stories out there?
I will be looking into this further, but there is an interesting dynamic here involving a 5 year planner with little economic experience handling a group with none.