The town of Longboat Key is forming a committee to help spur economic development on the island. But the Town Commission is still determining the committee’s makeup and mission.
At the Thursday, Feb. 17 regular workshop, Mayor George Spoll made his case for why he believes such a committee is necessary.
Spoll, who attended an Economic Development Council meeting of local municipalities in January, was surprised to discover the town was the only municipality that had no economic committee.
“I went to this meeting and discovered we have no formalized process in place,” Spoll said.
Commissioner David Brenner suggested the town resurrect an Economic Development Council under the umbrella of the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce, which included the town’s mayor, three Key citizens and economic development directors from both Manatee and Sarasota counties.
But Spoll suggested the focus of this group should be different.
“There is a concern on the Key we (the town) are trying to bring new business here,” Spoll said. “But when we talk about revitalization, I think of improvements to existing shopping centers. That, to me, is Longboat’s revitalization.”
Getting involved in bringing new business and jobs to the island, Spoll suggested, should not be the town’s job.
“The goal should be to figure out what and why we have lost some of our facilities,” Spoll said. “I think the goal of the committee should be more community-oriented.”
Spoll said the town needs a group to encourage ideas.
“If we had a group talking about ways to redevelop sites, it would attract entrepreneurs who might want to help make that happen for us,” Spoll said.
District 2 Commissioner-elect Jack Duncan, who replaces Spoll next month, also entered the discussion.
“I think the commission needs to create an objective first to discover what the town is trying to be,” Duncan said. “We need consensus on a town level on what we want this island to look like.”
There was a consensus to form the committee, and the commission agreed to discuss the concept again at its March regular workshop.
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