Haddix, Imker disagree on prospect handling
Even as new Peachtree City Economic Development Director Joey Grisham reported headway in luring new business and industry here, there remains a difference of opinion on the City Council as to how potential business leads should be handled.
At council’s retreat Friday, Grisham reported that professional marketing materials are in the process of being prepared, and that the city is having a solid presence at trade shows, where relationships are crucial to help land prospects.
So far so good. That is until the question arose about how the City Council handles inquiries from potential new businesses.
Councilman Eric Imker said the most important thing was for Grisham to serve as the city’s single point of contact for new businesses inquiring about locating here.
The way the process works, Imker said, is that Grisham will be able to hold the businesses’ requests in confidence while working with other city agencies to make sure the new businesses’ needs are met, Imker said.
Mayor Don Haddix, however, contended that one-size-fits-all approach will not work in some circumstances, and if a company comes to him first as mayor, he will submit the information to Grisham. And if that company prefers to continue working with just the mayor, that’s the way Haddix will keep it, he said.
It is incumbent upon the mayor to suggest that the company work with Grisham, Imker replied, especially with the understanding that Grisham can keep the inquiry confidential.
Haddix insisted that the prospect is the party that calls the shots, and if those company officials prefer working with him instead of Grisham, he was fine with that.
“I agree it will get to where it needs to go eventually, but you can’t set an iron-clad 1,2,3,” Haddix said. If the city does so, it risks losing prospects, Haddix added.
Soon after, Imker said he had a problem with “the mayor taking on the job of the person who says here are the options for you.”
Of Grisham, Imker said, “He has the background and the experience ... and he’s the one person who has to be contacted.”
Haddix then suggested he would not hoard the business prospects to keep for himself.
“If that opens the door to take it to Joey, or take it to the county, or whatever I am not going to close that door and say, ‘Oh, I’m am the only one person who can look at it,’” Haddix said.
The discussion moved on after new City Manager Jim Pennington jumped in with an analogy about the wildcat offense in football and how the quarterback, even when removed from behind center, always seems to be involved in the play in one way or another.
Using that analogy, Haddix has pledged to hand the ball off to Economic Development Coordinator Grisham when the time is right depending on the wishes of the prospect. But as with the wildcat offense, the timing of that handoff is likely either to make or break the play.