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This writer recently asked Yelm city official Shelly Badger about the make-up of the Yelm Economic Development
Committee (EDC) in the wake of several EDC references at City Council meetings. I did not delve further into Yelm’s EDC until last Tuesday’s Council meeting when my eyebrows were raised as the City Council authorized $17,700 to create a “collateral marketing piece” to promote Yelm as an attractive business environment. Based on my extensive marketing/sales background, “collateral marketing piece” means brochure and/or website to me.

Now, I am sitting in this meeting thinking,
“What is this city doing paying the Thurston County Economic Development Council (EDC)
this kind of money essentially for a marketing brochure when this area has many talented and experienced people that would serve this city in this capacity, if asked.”

So, I called city hall to request the members list of Yelm’s EDC, which includes:
Mayor Ron Harding, local contractor and lifelong Yelm resident
Grant Beck, Yelm City Staff Development Director
Shelly Badger, 20+ year veteran on Yelm City Staff & Yelm City Administrator
Cecelia Jenkins, Executive Director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce
Steve Ruff, Miles Sand & Gravel and Yelm Chamber of Commerce President
Glen Cunningham, local contractor, Yelm Chamber Board member and Yelm Planning Commission Chair

I wrote an email to Shelly Badger and copied the Mayor and Grant Beck after the Council meeting raising this issue and Mayor Harding responded that Yelm’s EDC members are appointed by him.
No disrespect intended Mr. Mayor, however the makeup of the Yelm Economic Development Committee (EDC) encompasses little or no sales, marketing, economic development, advertising, and/or corporate experience out in the world, IMHO. Mayor Harding stated, “Each of the backgrounds that you feel should be present on this committee is already present.”

I ask, “Where are citizen appointments and participation from a broad cross-section of this community?”
Mayor Harding, Ms. Jenkins, Steve Ruff, & Glen Cunningham serve on both the Yelm EDC & the Yelm Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Therefore, the Economic Development of this community is limited to the same people on the Chamber Board and Yelm’s EDC.
While I applaud the service by these fine people to the city, there is no infusion of fresh new ideas and experiences. No wonder the city must hire out its marketing; local talent is not utilized, so the City Council chooses to use taxpayer money for an outsider to promote the wonderful aspects of our city.

Were Yelm’s EDC to have members appointed with such experience, I am sure they could develop a marketing/sales strategy that would cost the city a minimum and be more effective, since they live here; people like real estate entrepreneur Cynthia Schmier, Investment Manager Gene Heuschel II, and internet website marketer Luke Sutton are a few of the talented locals that come to mind.

What do you think?
$17,700 too much for a Yelm marketing/sales brochure?
Should Mayor Harding add to Yelm’s EDC appointments from outside the usual group?

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding
Photo from City of Yelm website

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2006 at 11:16 am | Permalink

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