Manchester picked for Tennessee Downtowns program

The Manchester Historic Zoning Commission, chaired by Lisa Moreland, along with downtown merchants, are committed to an appealing, vibrant, and walkable downtown.    Being selected as a Tennessee Downtowns community is the first step in a process of eventually establishing a local Main Street® program, which will make Manchester eligible for grants for which we would otherwise not qualify.
A five person steering committee comprised of Roger Guess, chairman; Steve West, Pat Berges, Ray Amos, and Terri Hudson collected pertinent data and letters of support to put together the application.  This group will undergo several trainings before receiving a $15,000 grant to complete a downtown improvement project

1st Team Manchester Strategy Meeting

Warning ( was up late writing this, so will be grammatical errors )

At 5:30 on Monday June 20th we packed our small conference room with members from State and local tourism, the department of education, hospitality, the arts center, downtown events and revitalization, and of course your team here at the chamber. For those of you who are unaware, the chamber works with the department of tourism and economic development. With all the new information and statistics we have been presented, a stronger more cohesive working relationship with tourism is in the best interest of our members and our community.  The purpose of this gathering was strategic planning and collaboration to increase revenue from tourism. Sara “lastname” was our first speaker. She congratulated our town on climbing in the tourism rankings in the state of Tennessee. One of the factors in determining this ranking is specific to hospitality tax revenue reported. She elaborated on the wide array of resources and tools available through the state and how we can utilize them. She ended her presentation by highlighting that the discovery of unique local flavor is exactly what travelers are seeking such as locally owned eateries and locally owned shops. So if your grandmother or aunt has a hidden vault of family dishes it may be the time to get fitted for that apron.   Have a niche concept for a consumer products that are uniquely local? Could be the time to take a stronger look at the viability of your concept as an actual brick and mortar business.

Next up was Mr. Sam Reed of the Ingram Group. We were first introduced to Mr. Reed by Jeff Cuellar of AC Entertainment at the June Luncheon. For those of you who do not know, the Ingram group is our local liaison for Great Stage Park, or the home of Bonnaroo.  Mr. Reed’s primary goal was to, show commitment by being here, reintroduce himself to this specific group, and confirm the commitment of Great Stage Park to our town over the next 15 years.
Incumbent Alderman and Tourism Chairman Ryan French wrapped up the evening with statistics and updates thus far into 2016 as well as stressed the importance of a united strategic front moving forward. A recent audit in hospitality service industries by Tourism resulted in an additional $100,000 in undeclared hospitality taxes. Alderman French stated, “This single effort by tourism sent a message that we are watching, and the reason we are watching is because hospitality directly affects taxpayers.” The Tourism plan for hosting more Youth athletic tournaments are expected to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local economy. The most recent advance in this effort was in the form of applying for a grant to install lights at the new soccer complex allowing us the to ad soccer tournaments to that list.
There are multiple organizations that are each playing crucial roles in strengthening the Manchester and greater Coffee County community and economy. This creates an even stronger need for open dialogue, communication, and a united cohesive effort moving forward. Thus the creation of Team Manchester. Team Manchester is Tourisms answer to informed cohesive effort. Coincidentally this is also a pressing concern we here at the Chamber are currently addressing. We are in the process of building a digital hub where government organizations, private organizations, and members can keep informed, communicate, and collaborate.
Is the chamber on a soap box for tourism? Yes, Tourism is an active partner with the Chamber of Commerce. The proof is in the data. Our efforts for our community and our members is directly linked to many areas Tourism is in control of and we must be involved in those conversations.  Isn’t Incumbent French hot on the campaign trail and needing to highlight his efforts? Yes, but Alderman French is merely one member of a larger organization that is responsible for these efforts. Are you thinking, enough about Bonnaroo already, its 4 days a year and wasn’t attendance down this year anyway? Yes, but that one event is completely separate from the multiple smaller events that will not land lock patrons in the farm for the weekend. This will directly benefit our businesses and economy which benefits members.
Industry, education, retail, community, economic stability, and economic growth are all linked. We feel it in our gut, but most importantly the data backs it all up. Having meetings such as these are how we are staying informed and in turn sharing this knowledge with you, our members.

Manchester’s Economy is Growing, FAST!

One of my primary focuses after being re-elected in 2012 was to find ways to spur organic economic growth in our community. I believe strongly that developing an economy starts at the level of spending and finding a way for our community to retain a higher percentage of that spending.

The math doesn’t lie; 45% of purchases made at locally owned businesses stay in the community. An additional 9% of that expense stays in our state. That 45% compares to around only 12% with large corporate stores.

Don’t get me wrong. We need both, but I was always puzzled at the effort to simply recruit large corporate stores rather than focusing our efforts on growing the metrics in our economy to support not only the local businesses we currently have, but potentially a company looking to move in or an entrepreneur looking to get a start.

To me, it just makes sense to build a strong economy on a foundation of passionate local business owners. If you do that you are able to focus on the quality of economic growth and the quality of life that comes with organic growth.

At the end of the day, we live in a analytical world. If you build a strong economy folks will want to be a part of that. The numbers are what they are, and it’s difficult to convince a business or business leader to open or move a business into an environment that does not support their effort.

This focus is starting to pay off. As the Chairman and five year member of the Tourism and Community Development Commission, I have played a critical role in shifting the focus on this organic economic development.

We have done this by creating a strategy that focuses on strengthening our current tax structures, primarily sales tax. We are doing this with programs like “Eat, Shop, Stay Manchester”, digital marketing, interstate billboard campaigns and by recruiting events to our community. We are still working on efforts to recruit even more events, invest into facilities and also notify the business community of potential surges in customers as a result of events.

Read the rest @: vote-french-2016 | Manchester’s Economy is Growing, FAST!

Source: vote-french-2016 | Manchester’s Economy is Growing, FAST!

The Bonnarro Effect

On June twenty first, two thousand two the landscape of our small town would be forever altered. On this day some of the most electrifying entertainers in the world would lead over 70,000 tourists into our city limits. This day marked the first official Bonnaroo festival. As with anything different, this event would create a whirlwind of emotions, commentary, and controversy worthy of a Hollywood plot.