Knoxville — The Knoxville City Council and Chamber of Commerce Board met in joint session Thursday night and, in the end, both sides agreed to try to form a joint subcommittee, with the Knoxville Raceway, to work together to promote the town.
The council chambers were full, as board members, City candidates and other interested parties attended the special meeting.
"I'd like to see us work together better," Mayor Don Zoutte said.
Councilor Carolyn Formanek asked what the Chamber's role is. She followed that up by asking what the Chamber's goal is.
Chamber Board President Lori Bailey said a strategic planning meeting was recently held and the Chamber's focus is helping Knoxville businesses become vibrant and promote the community. The board has been focused on public relations, economic development and tourism.
The discussion between Formanek and Bailey continued before Chamber Executive Director Larissa Van Donselaar asked the council why it was seeking information on Chamber goals when it was the council who called the meeting. She said the Chamber had met goals the council had asked of them.
For years, half of the City's hotel/motel tax revenue has been given to the Chamber. According to Van Donselaar, the most recent amount was $25,000.
Formanek said the council does not want to "double up" economic development work if the Chamber is already providing them. City Manager Harold Stewart has been charged with leading economic development efforts on behalf of the City. The Chamber sees its role in this capacity is to provide information to potential newcomers.
Van Donselaar told the council that if they felt there was "bad blood" between the City and the Chamber, to let her know. Formanek then asked about the number of events the Chamber hosts, as people consider entertainment offered when choosing to locate in a town. Councilor Dave Roozeboom asked how the Chamber would feel if the City planned more events.