F’ville may limit number of Chamber travelers

An agenda item up for discussion at the Aug. 2 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council concerns the city’s invitation the 2012 Strategic Leadership Visit to be held in Franklin, Tenn., on Oct. 21-23 and sponsored by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce at a cost of nearly $700 per official.

Chamber President Virginia Gibbs said Monday the trip to Franklin would afford the county’s elected officials and business and community leaders the opportunity to see how a county with similar demographics is successfully addressing issues such as a rapidly aging population and revitalization.

Though the mayor and council, city manager, police chief and the director of city planning and development were invited, Fayetteville City Manager Joe Morton in a July 20 letter suggested that only two council members attend the October session along with applicable city staff.

Information provided by the chamber explained that the strategic leadership visit, “...will explore innovative, impactful ideas and programs in another leading community, which a goal of finding new ways to further enhance the economic viability and lifestyle we enjoy here in Fayette County.”

Gibbs said the elected officials in Fayette’s municipalities and the county have been invited along with leaders from local businesses and the community. She said the chamber does not expect that all elected officials in the county and its municipalities will attend. The idea, she said, was to make sure that they were invited.

Many local governments have some amount of funds set aside for the required training of elected officials. Those funds, if available, may or may not be used for purposes such as the trip to Franklin.

The visit includes a cost of $695 per person and covers transportation costs. Franklin is located in Williamson County south of Nashville.

Though Fayette has been successful on many fronts, Gibbs noted the benefits of looking at the successful efforts of other communities, especially those that possess similarities on par with Fayette County such as the aging population and efforts to attract visitors to revitalized downtown areas. In terms of aging, Fayette has the third fastest growing senior population in the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission area. Fayette’s senior population is projected to increase by 450 percent by 2030.

“Williamson County is similar to Fayette in many ways like its rapidly aging population, and excellence education system and high per capita income,” Gibbs said. “But they’ve done some very innovative things, and they were heads and shoulders above the other communities we looked at across the southeast.”

Gibbs added that the communities in nearby states were considered as a way to keep the cost down.

The agenda for the leadership visit includes topics such as the growth of Williamson County, workforce development in education, the arts, maintaining health, wellness and community spirit and collaborative efforts to enhance economic vitality.