Monday, December 05, 2011

More staff needed at TEAM Santa Rosa, expert says

TEAM Santa Rosa needs more staff and a new name to better do its job in economic development.

Those are among the recommendations that consultant Tom Ticknor made this morning to the Santa Rosa County Commission in his report on how to reform TEAM Santa Rosa.

"You have very, very good fundamentals to move forward from," Ticknor told commissioners. Ticknor, an economic development from Illinois whom TEAM paid $10,000 for his work. Ticknor spent a week in Santa Rosa County in November during which he interviewed 75 people, including all five commissioners, to determine how to best reform TEAM.

"The companies I talked to who have worked with TEAM Santa Rosa ... support it very, very strongly," he said. "That's not to say you don't have challenges. There have been downsizing in some of your major industries. ... The organization has relatively low private investment."

Ticknor recommended that TEAM keep its current staff and add a marketing professional as its chief executive officer for the purposes of better marketing Santa Rosa to potential industries and better managing the organization's image among voters and elected officials. TEAM chairman Dave Hoxeng said that position would require $100,000 from the commission this year.

He also recommended that TEAM work more closely with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce for regional economic development effort and that the organization change its name to Santa Rosa Economic Development Council, so that the name focuses more on the idea of economic development.

Ticknor said TEAM needs to be more aggressive in getting grants and private investment. He also said the county should consider increasing public funds to TEAM. Currently, at $413,480, the county pays $3.03 per capita, whereas he said "aggressive countywide" economic development efforts usually see a $3 to $5 per capital investment.

"If you want to be highly competitive, you need to look at strengthening those resources," he said.

The meeting is ongoing.

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