City still insists on business plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

It all boils down to the business plan.

The business plan – or the lack thereof – for the Nansemond Indians’ proposed Mattanock Town, has been a sore spot between city and tribal leaders for more than a year.


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Although there has been communication between the two groups, the City Council-appointed Mattanock Town Joint Task Force has not formally met since December 2002.

The tribe has requested 99 acres in the Lone Star Lakes Park, near its ancestral home in Chuckatuck for the project.

Attempting to rejuvenate the task force, Nansemond Chief Barry Bass, who co-chairs the task force with City Manager Steve Herbert, contacted Herbert by letter in late March. He asked that the task force meet on April 27, and also requested copies of business plans used in several successful public/private partnerships, including the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts and the Seaboard Railroad Museum.

Neither Herbert nor his staff showed up for the meeting. Last week, the city manager contacted Bass and requested that the two sit down together before calling the task force back together. Bass said he expects to meet with Herbert within the next two weeks.

But the meeting went on anyway. Tribal representatives and three council-appointed task force members did show up Tuesday.

Bass said he has not heard back on his request for the other business plans, which the tribe had planned to use as templates to create its own business plan.

Tribal members have said they believe some of these organizations never had to produce business plans before the city committed its resources to assist them.

Dennis Craff, spokesman for the city, recommended that the tribe contact the specific organizations for copies of their respective plans.

Betsy Brothers, who helped spearhead fundraising for the high school, said The Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts did produce a business plan for the city.

&uot;We did a business plan as clearly as we could in the beginning,&uot; she said. &uot;It included cost factors from architects, how we would reach our funding goals, and our marketing plan.

An accountant on the foundation’s board was critical to the development of their business plan, Brothers added.

&uot;He helped us with figures. He prepared a written plan about how we expected to reach our funding goals through private donors.

&uot;A business plan in the early stages of development,…a lot of it is guesswork,&uot; she continued. Much of their business plan has changed from the initial one, she added.

That’s typical, said Lynn Bartlett, the city’s business development coordinator.

&uot;Business plans are based on assumptions and are subject to change,&uot; he said. In the past, Bartlett, who works in the city’s Department of Economic Development, has offered the department’s services in helping tribal leaders with a business plan.

In the past, the Nansemonds have refused the offer. Bass said the tribe could be jeopardizing the project if they shared too much information with the city.

A business plan can be put together in 30 to 90 days, depending upon the complexity of the project.

&uot;Although it is rare that the request is made, the information included in the business plan could be kept confidential if the group asked,&uot; Bartlett said.

&uot;The biggest hang-up is the business plan,&uot; said Joe Barlow, one of the three city-appointed task force members who showed up at Tuesday’s meeting. &uot;I think the project will move swiftly if we can get around that obstacle.

&uot;…I believe both projects will have to concede some things if they want the project to move forward…If we can get a business plan working, I think Lone Star would come back into focus.&uot;

But it must be done soon in order to Mattanock Town to be ready for the Jamestown 2007 celebration.

&uot;Time is of the essence if we are to get it ready by 2007,&uot; Barlow said. &uot;That’s a big selling point for getting it started.&uot;