Avoid ‘blindsides,’ Wilson tells EDAC

A “welcome packet” for new Town of Farragut businesses, which would include detailed requirements for hosting a special event, was suggested by the co-owner of a West End Avenue business, claiming to have been blindsided by requirements for hosting its first anniversary celebration.

Dawn Wilson was invited by Farragut’s Economic Development Advisory Committee to speak about the experiences she and her husband, Dan Wilson, have had with Town officials and Town codes in getting their business, The DW Designs, started at 145 West End Ave.

While recently planning their celebration, “I get about five days out, and I get an e-mail from somebody from the Town. Just to be honest, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it felt like a slap on the hand,” Wilson told EDAC during its monthly meeting Wednesday, Sept. 5, in Town Hall boardroom.

“I felt like, ‘why didn’t I get a call?’ Or, “’hey, do you know you’re supposed to do this?’” she added. “I opened the attachment and it was like a 10-page document. I was supposed to have all this filled out and turned in something like 120 days ahead of time, and go to some meeting and this and that.

“I had no idea. … I said, ‘I’m not trying to shut the streets down.’”

About her proposed welcome packet, Wilson said it should include “whatever information you feel like a business owner could have to be successful.”

About the Town’s reputation with businesses, Wilson said, “There is a stigma with Farragut,” about the Town’s perceived reputation as being rigid with aspiring and existing businesses. “When we were choosing Farragut, (others were saying), ‘good luck with that.’”

Wilson said the couple chose Farragut “because it’s really where our base was, it’s where our jobs were before we went full-time, and it’s where our core supporters were.

“… It wasn’t super-expensive, so it felt like, ‘we can afford this,’” she added.

“Once we had our grand opening, I felt like the Town really rallied around us. The (Farragut West Knox) Chamber came out.”

Also “an issue,” according to Wilson, is the business’s insufficient Town-allowable signage along Kingston Pike.

“When you’re sitting at the redlight you can’t see (their sign) very good,” she said about motorists on Kingston Pike. “… I literally have people in our business every single day saying, ‘I had no idea you guys were back here.’

“… There’s 24 businesses back there” in West End Center, Wilson added. “(One customer) was like, ‘I had no idea all of this was back here, and I live (near the center).’”

Other business included …

• A report from Christine Horwege, point person for EDAC’s Business Incubator Committee analyzing such businesses for possible inclusion in Town. The lack of sales tax generation from incubator businesses, because they are typically high-tech and not retail, was among the points discussed.

Others who spoke during Horwege’s presentation said that utilizing the Town’s existing high-tech talent to bring in incubators would, by these individuals’ mere presence in Town, stimulate sales tax through their retail spending.

• Daniel Haddad, a senior at Farragut High School, was introduced as EDAC’s student representative for the 2019 fiscal year.