Joint Economic Community Development Boards: Making Them More Effective

The Growth Policy Act also required each non-metropolitan county to establish a joint economic community development board (JECDB) to “foster communication relative to economic and community development between and among governmental entities, industry, and private citizens.”1  Other than this, JECDBs have no statutory powers or authority.  Any other functions they may have are determined by interlocal agreement among the municipalities and county.  JECDBs, at a minimum, include all city and county mayors plus one person with land in Tennessee’s Greenbelt program, as well as representatives of citizens, current industry, and businesses.  These county boards and their executive committees must meet at least four times a year in order for local governments in each county to be eligible for state grants.  Although the boards have been useful in many counties and the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development has gone to great lengths to give them purpose, others question the need for frequent meetings and wish to have more flexibility.

Giving JECDBs additional authority may resolve concerns about their effectiveness and make them more useful, for instance by allowing local governments to decide whether to consolidate the functions of their JECDBs in their coordinating committees or grant them the economic development powers of a joint industrial development corporation.  Otherwise, reducing the number of required meetings to one per year and allowing them to determine for themselves whether to meet more often makes sense.  Consolidating the functions of JECDBs in county growth plan coordinating committees would expand them to include representatives of the largest municipal and non-municipal utilities, the largest school system, the largest chamber of commerce, the soil conservation district, and four members representing environmental, construction, and homeowner interests.  The statutory membership of joint industrial development corporations is already similar enough to that of JECDBs to make granting their powers to JECDBs a reasonable way to make JECDBs more useful.


1Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 6-58-114(b)