The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

June 20, 2014

City gets task force report

Thursday, June 19, 2014 — Albemarle’s Business Development Task Force wrapped up about four months of work with 16 recommendations to the City Council Monday night.

According to a suggested timeline, several of the recommendations will be employed immediately. Others will be initiated over the next month, two months or more.

One of those immediate steps will establish the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development as  the primary hub of information for new business owners in the city.

“This will give business owners one place to start,” Jim Prosser, of Centralina Council of Governments, said.

Centralina organized the task force work sessions and presented the recommendations to Council on their behalf.

Right now, Prosser explained, there are too many places to begin the business-opening process, which can lead to inconsistent information. Narrowing the starting point should make the process more uniform and predictable, he said.

Most of the recommendations focus on making the business-opening process more clear to the public,  Bob Henderson, also of Centralina, said.

“Your process is good, but it’s just not getting through to the public,” Henderson said.

To that end, one of the other recommendations that will be immediately implemented is establishing the inital components of a process tracking system.

Eventually the system could be fully automated, so  business owners could check  where they are in the business opening process anytime by going online.

“Of course this will have to start simpler than that,” Henderson said.

The initial version will be a spreadsheet that employees will manually update and check for business owners.

To go along with that, the city will also immediately start using a consolidated form that assigns a tracking number to new business owners.

The consolidated form eliminates several others and reduces the amount of paperwork business owners have to do.

Over the course of the next month the timeline suggests creating more resource documents such as tables and maps with zoning information and online information and forms. Specific studies on building codes and utility policies could be initiated then as well.

In the month following that, heavy resources such as pre-process packets for potential business owners, fliers on zoning requirements and a searchable online set of city ordinances could be compiled. That information could then be incorporated into staff training as well.

“This is a pretty comprehensive list of recommendations,” Prosser said.

“It’s going to take a while to work through them all.”

Task force member David Morgan suggested the group be reconvened monthly to see how the initiative is proceeding and give unbiased feedback.

“I was also fortunate enough to serve on the Economic Development Task Force several years ago,” Morgan said.

“But I’m not sure where we are with those recommendations. … It would be good to know where we are.”

The Council agreed this would be a good idea and also said it would look into reconveneing the Economic Development Task Force as well to give an update and garner feedback on those initiatives.

“This isn’t something we want to just sit on a shelf,” Mayor Ronnie Michael said.

The Council also:

 appointed the following individuals to boards and commissions: Krystyal Dulin and Lorraine Watkins to the Community Appearence Commission; Lindsey Gobush to the Greenway Commission; Rodney Morgan, Roosevelt Horne and Heath LuQuire to the Board of Adjustments; several others were reappointed.

 changed its shared leave policy so city employees can give sick days to other city employees after accumulating 80 hours of sick leave.

 passed a resolution opposing the elimination of U.S. Highway 52, N.C. Highway 24-27 and U.S. Highway 601 from the Strategic Transportation Corridor Map.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynewspress.com.

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