Planning commission embraces ideas for aiding business climate
Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, KY), 2014-02-21
Feb. 21--Members of the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission are in general agreement with several recommendations put forward late last year to improve the community's level of business friendliness, including its chief suggestion that the position of business development coordinator be created.
The position, a sort of ombudsman or liaison to assist contractors, developers and business owners going through the local regulatory process, was envisioned by the Mayor's Committee on Business Development as being either employed by the planning commission or by the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.
But as OMPC members pointed out during a work session Thursday at City Hall, a recent reorganization at the EDC fills the need for a business development coordinator position, which is the best place for it, they said.
"I believe the EDC is the place we should advertise for people to go to," said John Kazlauskas. "It will be important for all agencies to get on board and support this person."
Kazlauskas said Jim Mischel, OMPC's customer service specialist, will need to work closely with EDC personnel.
Mischel and OMPC Executive Director Gary Noffsinger told the commissioners that the planning and zoning office is already taking steps to have better relations with customers, including having a person dedicated to greeting people as they arrive and answering calls.
"When people come in, I tell them I'll be glad to help them contact other agencies," Mischel said. "I think it's working pretty good."
"We are trying hard to get Jim's contact information out there," Noffsinger said. "We are doing things in response to the committee's recommendations."
One recommendation called for the planning commission to perform an annual evaluation of its director, and Noffsinger said it would be OK with him.
The committee's recommendations that a culture of pure customer service be created raised one concern with the OMPC staff.
"We want to help, but we have rules and regulations to enforce," said Manuel Ball, associate director for building, electrical and HVAC code enforcement. "The answer is not always what they want to hear. Trying to help the customer is our goal, but the state building code says when there is a conflict (in requirements), we can't take the most lenient path, just the opposite."
The OMPC is already holding joint meetings with other regulatory agencies on major development projects, Noffsinger said, and will continue to do so, and the staff is willing to help if the community seeks to target properties for redevelopment. Finally, the OMPC board members said quarterly regular work sessions with the staff will be scheduled to satisfy another of the study committee's recommendation.
Thursday's work session lasted two hours. Another meeting will be held to consider other recommendations made by the committee.
Steve Vied, 691-7297, email@example.com
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