You asked: Group still bridging gap between businesses, City Hall

Published 10:04 am Saturday, June 18, 2011

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You asked: Is Franklin’s Business Friendly Committee still active?

FRANKLIN—Three years after its formation, the Business Friendly Committee is still working as a liaison between the business community and city government.

The committee was the brainchild of City Councilmen Barry Cheatham and Benny Burgess, who joined with colleagues in approving it soon after municipal elections in 2008.

The committee, consisting of city officials and business owners, is meant to help make things easier on existing business while finding ways to attract new business to the area, said committee member Dan Howe, manager of the Downtown Franklin Association.

“We are looking at what we can do with the city and businesses to create an atmosphere that makes it easier to be in business,” Howe said.

The committee is tasked with looking at city codes and zoning ordinances that could be seen as “roadblocks” to new and existing businesses.

The committee has been working on the city’s sign ordinance to lessen some of its restrictions, said Teresa Beale, executive director of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“They worked very hard early on to make the sign ordinance a little more business-friendly,” Beale said. “It was very strict. They want to make sure businesses can promote themselves in the best way possible.”

Cheatham, who serves as chairman of the committee, said the revised ordinance changes the size of allowable signs everywhere but downtown. The committee plans to work with DFA to find an “effective and reasonable” median.

Although the committee is not a complaint group, Beale said it gives business leaders a forum in which to share their issues and concerns.

“I think it’s a good thing for the community,” Beale said.

In addition to the sign ordinance, Cheatham said the committee has been looking at covenants at area industrial parks to see if they could be revamped to make the city more attractive to new business.

Cheatham said the committee has also looked at adding information on all available resources for starting a new business into the business license package for prospective owners.

“We are constantly reviewing the workings of the city to help streamline the business licensure procedure,” Cheatham said.

The committee usually meets on the third Wednesday of each month, Cheatham said.