Maggie to release business plan study

Alderman accuses mayor of tampering
By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | May 17, 2013
Photo by: Mountaineer file photo Craig Madison, former Grove Park Inn CEO, gives a thumbs up at the Moving Maggie Forward kick-off meeting. Mayor Ron DeSimone introduced Madison in May 2012.

MAGGIE VALLEY — Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen are anxious to see the results of the “Move Maggie Forward” survey will be presented at 5:30 p.m. May 21 at Maggie Valley Town Hall.

Craig Madison, former CEO of The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, will be giving the presentation. Madison has been the facilitator of the project and has spent months talking to Maggie businesses to come up with a comprehensive business plan.

The town was able to bring Madison on board with the help of a $20,000 state grant and a $5,000 town contribution. He said he has been working on the study since last August, but the November was the official kickoff presentation.

Mayor Ron DeSimone has been talking about the idea of “Move Maggie Forward” since being elected in November 2011.

Madison said the three goals of the plan are to create an identity, a business plan and to create a matrix for success. Madison has been organizing meetings of business leaders to work on the plan. He said he has spent 120 hours doing one-on-one interviews with people in the business community, held work sessions with different organizations, conducting an online survey and collecting data.

Madison said Move Maggie Forward was unique because it was a consensus plan that was looking for commonality among the businesses.

"And we'll make a recommendation based on the items they agreed upon," he said. "I spent more time in the one-on-one interviews because a lot of people wanted to talk. The wonderful thing that came out early on was that there was a tremendous amount of commonality and agreement on projects perceived to be the biggest opportunity."

DeSimone was accused of withholding with the report results from the rest of the aldermen during a Tuesday board meeting.

Alderman Phillip Wight said DeSimone has refused to let the board see a rough draft of the report and that DeSimone tampered with the initial report.

“I spoke to Craig (Madison) and he said he was ready to go public with it until you met with him,” Wight said to DeSimone.

DeSimone said he has not seen the document and that he has not affected the results of the study. He said a rough draft did not exist, which is why no one had seen it yet.

“It’s being facilitated by the town but the actual program belongs to the business community of Maggie Valley,” he said.

In a later interview, Madison said the Move Maggie Forward project team is made up of the town, the Tourist Development Authority, Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce and Haywood Community College. He said he did ask a few people to look at a rough draft of the report just to make sure it made sense.

"It was just to ask the simple question 'does it make sense,'" Madison said. "It didn't affect the content."

Maggie resident Charlie Meadows argued that $25,000 of taxpayer money was spent on the study; therefore it should be available to the public whether it was final or a draft.

DeSimone said on Thursday that he did attend a meeting between the Move Maggie Forward stakeholders and the group reviewed much of the data that would be included in the report, "but I wouldn't call it a rough draft." He said the group mostly discussed the order in which things would be presented.

Madison said the report will be available at the day after his presentation.

"Then it will be up to the community to move forward and hopefully take action," he said.


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