TDA members discussed, during a recent work session, the possibility of hiring on an executive director. Beyond the general consensus that the organization — which oversees tourism marketing and occupancy-tax dollars — has evolved to the point of needing a fulltimer, members are still feeling out just what such a leader would look like.
“We realize we need somebody, and how that person is going to fall into what we’re doing we’re not sure,” said Ken Fernandez, “But we do realize we need some type of person as a sort of hub.”
Fernandez shared with his fellow board members specifics he’d learned about tourism authorities in neighboring counties. Some were more developed than Jackson’s TDA — “you go to Haywood County and they have 50 volunteers working for them and four people in the office” — while others were more bare bones.
Mead suggested that the TDA broach the subject with Jackson County officials. He said delving too much further into such territory without getting the county’s perspective would be “ pedaling in the sand.”
“I think they’re looking to us,” said TDA Chairman Robert Jumper.
“Nah, they’ve got expectations,” Meads replied.
The resolution that established the TDA in Jackson requires county commissioners to approve any move to hire, and expend funds, on an executive director. Jumper and Meads have scheduled a meeting with County Manager Chuck Wooten for next week to discuss the matter.
“I suspect the TDA board now realizes that relying completely on a volunteer board for all the administrative tasks associated with travel and tourism is difficult,” Wooten said.
The TDA board does not expect to make any decisions regarding an executive director when it meets this month.
“I’m really not thinking we’ll have anything to vote for on the 20th,” said Jumper.
“I really don’t think we’re anywhere close to a vote,” agree Meads.
“Vote on what?” laughed Fernandez.