Crestwood aldermen OK new business-first panel

Schlink plans to recommend new chairman for city’s EDC

By Kari Williams

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to approve the formation of a business-first advisory council for the city at its meeting last week.

Mayor Jeff Schlink introduced the proposition to the board at its Jan. 28 meeting with the idea that Crestwood would partner with the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce.

The end-goal for the panel would be to streamline the process of establishing a business in Crestwood.

“… I didn’t want to move forward with this business-first advisory panel without the board being on board with that …,” Schlink said.

Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild expressed agreement with the panel, as well as establishing a working relationship with the Chamber of Commerce.

“… I do think we need to engage the chamber a lot more because I think it starts with the chamber …,” he said.

Schlink said that besides chamber businesses, he would like to engage property owners and businesses not “covered by the chamber” to “make sure people feel as if they have representation.”

Schlink said when he spoke with Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Boggeman, they discussed the entire Watson Road corridor rather than focusing solely on Crestwood. Establishing the business-first advisory panel could be a “compelling reason” to become a chamber member, according to Schlink, as well as help engage people with an “entrepreneur spirit.”

“We’re excited about the idea, and I think we came out with a few things that we’d maybe like to target, bring to your group in the first place, a couple tasks, and try to pull you guys in slowly and then really try to expand as quickly as we can,” Schlink told Robert Alexander, chairman of the chamber’s Economic Development Committee.

Creating the panel, Schlink said, will not eliminate the city’s Economic Development Commission, or EDC, but rather, is a way to give businesses “a direct voice.”

“… I thought the chamber was a logical first step to engage (local businesses),” he said. “I still see the EDC as being that recommending body to the board …”

Schlink said he talked to EDC Chairman Forrest Miller the previous weekend.

“… His priority was making sure that the EDC was doing what it needed to do, and I had said that he was putting the city first, rather than himself, rather than continuing to attach himself to this. So Mr. Miller and I talked, and I’m going to make a recommendation to this board for a new chair of the EDC, and then from there, we will try to engage the EDC differently than what we had in the past …,” he said.

Alexander said when he took the committee post in 2007, he was aware Sunset Hills and Crestwood had commissions, but at that time — and today — they were “in somewhat of an on-again, off-again situation.”

“The community Chamber of Commerce predominantly is attempting to foster a good business relationship, first off, with existing businesses, as well as doing whatever we possibly can to attract new businesses …,” he said.

Citing the closing of Puricelli’s Deli, Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding said he would like a relationship to form where businesses notify the city if they plan to close.

Schlink said the business-first advisory panel is a “good step to try to engage” businesses, though it is not meant to cover every type of business in Crestwood.