County EDB sets PR policies, sets second monthly meeting location in Cove



Cove Leader-Press


The Coryell County Economic Development Board held the first of its two July meetings on Thursday afternoon and made some key decisions about media releases, its public relations as well as setting a meeting date in Copperas Cove.

Dick Van Dyke, the board's president, began the meeting with a bit of what he called “housekeeping.”

He reminded the other three board members present, as well as member Fred Chavez listening via conference call, that when emailing each other, that they do not make decisions or discuss agenda items. “If you address the email to me, you can copy each other, but we cannot open it up for discussion,” said Van Dyke. “That would be, in my opinion, a violation of the open meetings act. To me, that is one of the most important thing we have.”

The board voted to approve a plan A and a plan B for fiscal year 2015 funding, as they are still trying to  secure a strategic plan for economic development in the county.

Plan A involves asking the commissioners for $70,000—to include $35,000 which was earmarked for 2014, and an additional $35,000. The main reason for that amount is based on the old saying “you get what you pay for.”

Plan B will ask the commissioners for $35,000 for fiscal year 2015, if the $70,000 figure won't fly. The board will also contemplate ways to fund the rest of the amount to obtain the quality of a strategic plan the county needs.

Discussion then turned to the next agenda item, how the board should handle public relations matters, and how to respond either as a board, or personally, if they believe there is misinformation circulating about the board locally, via print media or other avenues.

Harrell brought a proposed sample of a press release to the board, and also suggested they discuss with the county how to update the board's page on the county website. She volunteered to speak with Coryell County Judge John Firth about how to get the page updated, as far as posting announcements, press releases and links to information.

“We've got to have a point of contact, and keep it updated on timely basis,” Harrell said.

The board also received input about its web presence from J.R. Atkins, owner of Something Different Companies, LLC, who recently relocated to Coryell County and was present at Thursday's meeting because of his interest in economic development.

Atkins said he contacted 15 EDCs in the area when he first moved to Coryell County, that it was easy to find information on Coryell County, but there was a gap in communication as he never received a response from the Coryell County board.

“It's critical for the board to improve its community outreach and communications, and this is a case in point,” Harrell said of Atkins' example. “Where are these emails to the EDB going? Who's going to be responsible for responding?”

This led into the discussion of the board's public relations policy.

“Sometimes there will be articles in the newspaper where we feel we need to respond,” Harrell said. “We need to get out ahead of things and let people, let the community know what we're doing. We get out ahead, we're getting our message out, and we put it out before someone else can put a spin on what they think they heard at a meeting.”

The board voted to approve a policy that the board president as well as vice president will have the authority and responsibility to issue press releases to the local communities and media outlets.

Before voting, the members confirmed that when approached by the media, they are permitted to respond when giving their opinions. Additionally, should there be any media report which they deem misrepresents them personally, they are permitted to respond as individuals, except in matters regarding board policy.

Also on Thursday, the board approved the scheduling and plans for a one-day economic development seminar, to include not just themselves, but other individuals from economic development boards in the area including the cities of Copperas Cove and Gatesville, along with Evant, which has a brand-new board.

The board voted to hold the seminar in early August at the planetarium conference room at Central Texas College and provide lunch.

The morning speaker will be Carlton Schwab, the president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council, and Polo Enriquez will also give a presentation in the afternoon.

The board will use some of its funds this year to pay the $1,000 speaker fee to Schwab and pay for lunch for those attending.

For its next meeting and every fourth Monday of the month meeting of the board, they voted to change the location of their meeting to the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation’s board room in Copperas Cove.

Hosting a meeting in Copperas Cove, or other communities throughout the county, had previously been brought to the board as an agenda item at least once before, but had been voted down in the past.

“it was my understanding that one of our goals was to move the monthly meeting around to different communities,” said Harrell.

She also said by having a meeting in Copperas Cove, it will show the board's intention to have “a much better working relationship with the Cove Economic Development Board.”

Chavez also gave his agreement with the idea, as the group seeks to be more proactive in the local area.

“It would go a long way to dispelling any concerns or rumors that this board is only concerned about things happening in the north end of the county, specifically Gatesville,” Chavez said. “Anything we can do to quell that is going to go a long way. I'm just saying, politically it makes sense.”

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