October 9, 2009

Business plan moves forward for Sports authority

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Southside Business Technology Center (SBTC) was selected to complete a strategic business plan for the Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority, with various parts of the plan to be submitted over the next few weeks.

Eva Doss, director of the center, said the plan will be completed in intervals, or blocks. As each block is completed, the center will submit it to Dennis Toney, director of the sports authority. Toney will distribute the information to authority members for their input, Doss said.

The business plan was among items requested by the Harvest Foundation before additional funding is considered for the sports authority. The foundation paid $8.7 million to build the Smith River Sports Complex and gave it to the authority to manage.

During a meeting of the authority’s board Thursday, she urged authority members to “provide feedback in a timely fashion,” in part due to the short time frame for completion.

Doss said Toney should have the first submission — titled “Industry Analysis” — by Oct. 15.
When conducting research for that portion of the business plan, the center will look at similar entities in Virginia, North Carolina and nationwide to provide an overview of the industry and identify factors that are critical to success, she said.

A market analysis, slated to be submitted Nov. 6, will identify the primary market by using market research and survey results, Doss said.

Other components of the business plan, including competitor analysis, a marketing plan and financial forecasts, will be submitted by Nov. 16, 21 and 30 respectively, she said.

An executive summary also will be prepared, Doss said. That document will include highlights of other components and recommend strategies for recruitment, outline key points of the marketing plan, highlight the financial forecast, assess the competition and offer strategies to compete in the market, she said.

The organizational structure of the authority also will be examined, she said.

“We will look at what we have now and what will best support the organization’s plans,” Doss said.

The center, located in the West Piedmont Business Development Center, 22 E. Church St., provides consulting services to existing and emerging companies in Martinsville-Henry County. It serves 45 companies a year, according to an April release.

Also Thursday, the authority board agreed to allow continued discussions on ways to partner with Martinsville on the city-owned Mustangs baseball team. That is provided those talks do not interfere with the authority’s priority of finishing its business plan and other requirements from Harvest before it will consider more funding.

When making the request, Martinsville city manager and authority member Clarence Monday said a recent report on the Mustangs recommended exploring partnerships with individuals and/or private agencies to improve team operations while cutting the team’s expenses.

City officials are concurrently advertising for a new general manager and accepting proposals from other private or public entities interested in partnerships for the season next year, he said.

Applications and proposals will be accepted through the end of October, Monday said. Beginning next month, city officials will “look to see the merit of the proposals” and the qualifications of applicants and decide how to proceed.

“We’re not saying we want the sports authority to take over management” or funding of the baseball team, Monday said. “We want to work with sports authority staff to explore opportunities” for partnerships that would be mutually beneficial.

The authority also agreed not to change an existing policy about bicycle use. Cyclists are encouraged to bike to the facility, but bicycles are prohibited inside the complex.

The next meeting of the authority is scheduled for 4 p.m. Nov. 12.