This week I attended a Henrico County Leadership dinner hosted by the Henrico Business Council of ChamberRVA. This was a mix of county officials and business people gathered together for the purpose of relationship building and collaboration.
Since I live in Chesterfield County, and the meals tax referendum did not pass, I was curious about how it was done successfully in Henrico. I love living in Chesterfield County and was disappointed that the community was not as informed as they should have been. I thought that maybe there are some lessons to be learned and I was right.
The officials at my table were from the County Council and the Henrico County Public Schools. Here are some of the things I learned:
They learned from past mistakes and did not repeat them.
They started 16 months in advance of the vote.
The leadership on the Council and the School Board were in agreement with the plan.
They held large and small group meetings to INFORM and LISTEN to the community.
Since the word TAX can be a dirty word, they made it clear that the meals tax was for the improvement of the schools.
They answered the questions all questions and had answers to the objections that were raised.
They asked for the tourism and the real estate community to get involved.
The made sure that the restaurants saw the benefit and they made it easy for them to comply.
Here’s the bottom line, it takes unified leadership, clarity of message, massive collaboration, cooperation and trust from the community. That’s how you get to YES!!!