The topic of economic development has been a common discussion in Smyrna for years. From the 2011 branding project to the recent Route 13 Corridor Study, residents and employees of the town have been looking for ways not to change Smyrna but to build on the unique character of the town.

Yet even with the various projects done to help the town grow, some town officials felt the work being done needed to be better organized in a plan for the future; therefore, the town's Business Development and Long Range Planning committees have been combined.

Councilman Jeff Flairty, chair of the new Economic Development Committee, said the focus of the group is to develop a plan with a cohesive message for the town. Flairty said the idea to combine the two committees was the idea of both himself and Town Manager Dave Hugg.

Hugg had established some goals and objectives for the town to work on, and within those suggestions Flairty saw the vision for the future of Smyrna.

"We're trying to bring a lot of different efforts together and make them cohesive, make them coordinated, make them more powerful so that the town has a consistent and cohesive message to the people that are interested," Flairty said. "We need to get the message out of what Smyrna is and make sure that we follow through."

Getting organized

Thus far the committee has met once. Flairty said the meeting consisted of creating four sub-committees and presenting the goals/objectives Hugg established. Committee members have been asked to identify the areas they are passionate about.

The four committees are public outreach, business development, design and funding. The Design Sub-Committee will work on the image of the town and how that image is promoted. The Business Development Sub-Committee will continue working with Consultant Rick Ferrell on finding businesses that are good economic resources for the town. The Public Outreach Sub-Committee will work on pushing out a consistent message about the good things happening in Smyrna. The public outreach group will also work on having a better relationship with businesses in town, kind of an ambassadorship, which was suggested by committee member and Vice Mayor Regina Brown. The Funding Sub-Committee will work on getting funding and grants for economic development. Flairty said the goal is to make economic development in Smyrna self-sufficient.

A plan for the future

Flairty said the person who has kept these projects tied together to this point has been Hugg, but that Hugg is only one person. The goal is to ultimately distill his suggestions down to a clear objective that will go to council for approval.

"I don't want this to be Dave's vision of Smyrna," Hugg said. "It needs to be a set of strategies that comes from a group of people who have committed themselves to making it happen."

If council does eventually approve the objective set forth by the committee, Hugg said the town can better plan for the future and how to spend finances when doing the budget.

Mayor Joanne Masten said she wanted to bring the committees under one roof to bring focus to the town with the goal of controlling the growth of Smyrna.

"The future of Smyrna I think is positive. I'm very optimistic with our growth opportunity," Masten said. "We just need one single message that says we're open for business."

And that's what the committee intends to do, but in their own way.

"I think David [Hugg] made a really good point that it doesn't do any good to try and be somebody else," Flairty said. "We're not Dover, we can't be Dover. We're not Middletown, we can't be Middletown. We're Smyrna and we need to do the things that we've talked about to identify with that and promote Smyrna and promote what Smyrna means not only to us but to the people who live here."

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