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Archive for Tuesday, July 9, 2002

July 9, 2002

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The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's new vice president of economic development has set her goals for the next 90 days.

Lynn Parman, the former vice president of business development for the St. Joseph, Mo., Chamber of Commerce, began work Monday with the Lawrence chamber. She said she comes with a "90-day action plan" that includes a heavy emphasis on reviewing the chamber's current efforts and creating a better system for company prospects and the community.

"The thing I have come to understand about this business is that if you can make a company's job easier for them, you are one step closer to making a deal with them," Parman said.

"As competitive as the economic development business is, it is very important to create a business environment that allows companies to succeed as easily as possible."

Parman said she hoped to create a system that would make it easier for the community to embrace economic development projects proposed by the chamber. Although never mentioning by name the failed American Eagle Outfitters project, which led to much public debate about two years ago, Parman said she hoped to avoid such controversies in the future.

"I think one of the biggest challenges with the job will be understanding the passion of the community," Parman said. "Understanding the thoughts of the community, especially in terms of what will be an acceptable economic development project is real important.

"It's not nearly so important that I think something is a good project but rather that the community thinks it is a good project."

Parman said she'd be trying to figure out the community's position on development by meeting with lots of "stakeholders." She will attend a city commission meeting and planning commission meeting this week. Parman also intends to attend public events.

"I plan on being very visible," Parman said. "Anytime there is an event, it would be a good bet that you'll see me there."

Parman said she would be doing plenty of homework as part of her 90-day plan. She said she wanted to review the chamber's current marketing program, become more familiar with the county's demographics and review existing programs, including the current tax abatement policy.

Tax abatements were a major part of the debate surrounding the failed efforts to locate an American Eagle Outfitters distribution center on farmland east of the East Hills Business Park. Parman said she had a simple philosophy about tax abatements and other incentives: she only wants to use them if it would make a difference in landing the company.

"You always have to ask yourself if they are really necessary in attracting the particular company," Parman said. "A big part of my job is understanding what it will take to get the deal done.

"And I'll want to use whatever it takes to get the deal done, but no more."

Parman, who was hired in June after a national search, replaces Debi Moore, who resigned in February, citing health reasons.

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