CAMDEN — Camden Village Council held a special meeting, Thursday, June 30, to discuss a number of issues which had gone unaddressed due to council’s inability to establish a quorum for the previous two meetings scheduled for June 16, and June 23.
During public participation, council was approached by Rob Jarrell of Camden, who looks to pioneer a budding business called MedShip with ambitions to open in Camden. According to Jarrell, after graduating from Miami University, he went to work in the pharmaceutical industry where he learned to ply his skills for business. Jarrell worked four years for Stryker Orthopaedics after which he left to start his own business in 2014. Jarrell claims he sold that business in February to Johnson and Johnson for a sum of $250 million dollars. Afterwards, Jarrell created another company, called CPN, which he says he again sold for $100 million dollars.
Speaking of the purpose of his businesses, Jarrell said, “So what it is that we do, is when a doctor does surgery on a patient, they send them home with bandages from the hospital with instructions to go to CVS. Sometimes they don’t even send them with instructions, they just say, ‘hey, come back and see us in four weeks.’”
“Patients have no idea what to do. So, we streamline the process for the doctors, and doctors send us like a prescription — we send the products directly to the patient with instructions and they can call us twenty-four-seven to get instructions of how to do this.”
Jarrell explained Camden would serve as the company’s headquarters, while small distribution centers around the country would supply the growing demand for MedShip’s services.
Jarrell has the utmost confidence in his business’ success, saying, “When I say this is going to be a multi-multimillion dollar company, it’s not a guess, it’s not a prediction — it’s a reality. It’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take us to get there.”
MedShip currently operates from The Dover located in Camden. Jarrell claims they have already achieved unexpected profits.
Jarrell and his partners currently own the properties at 11, 19, 25 and 56 South Main Street in Camden, with plans of demolishing the existing structures, and building a new warehouse in their place. Jarrell expressed his desire to maintain the character of Camden, and assured that the intended structure would not look like a warehouse. Though Jarrell expressed he originally wanted to establish the company in Florida or a larger community, as he had with his previous businesses, he felt that his family’s ties to Camden made it a more sentimental, and community driven idea.
Jarrell and his partners had also sought to purchase and renovate Camden’s old IGA building to use as an additional storehouse for MedShip’s products. Jarrell issued a complaint to council that the village had extended an agreement to MedShip in the form of a loan of $500,000 if Jarrell and his associates renovated the IGA and hired 25 employees with a salary of $25 dollars an hour or higher. Upon completion of these conditions the loan would be forgiven in five years, an agreement MedShip was in favor of.
However, according to Jarrell, the deal was altered sometime later to a lower loan amount of $190,000 with the same conditions as the previous agreement.
Councilman Kelly Doran commented, the village would still offer the $500,000 agreement, but over the course of 15 years, stating that upfront the village could only offer the loan amount of $190,000.
Rob Jarrell’s brother, Ryan, remarked that, “To say you get the same offer, but now it’s $190,000 is not the same offer. When you say, ‘oh you’ll get it, but over 15 years,’ is not the same proposal. That’s what I have a problem with.”
Members of council insist there was miscommunication between themselves and MedShip’s representatives. Jarrell, however, seemed to disagree.
“I think we’re all adults and we understand if somebody says, ‘hey this is our offer,’” Jarrell remarked. He continued that, noting his family ties are now the only thing convincing him to stay in Camden.
“If it were up to me, we’d be moving on. The reason I say that is because the way I’ve always been successful in business is we get a group of people, we figure out ideas, and we all work together to find a common ground.”
“I was told that every single member (of council) had seen every single bit of this (agreement.) Knew about the proposal, knew about the plan, knew about everything. But that’s the problem. So, when I was told that council knows about this and then I talked to a few of you, and you were like, ‘why didn’t you go through the proper channels?’ And I thought we were,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell continued to express his concerns that Camden may not be able to support his ambitions, a sentiment which councilman Doran found disconcerting. “What do you want? Either of you — just spit out — what do we need to do?” he asked.
“I’ll tell you what I wanted,” Ryan Jarrell stated, “I wanted Main Street revitalized… ”
“I know that!” Doran interjected.
“No, don’t interrupt me,” Ryan Jarrell continued. “You asked me a question. I wanted Main Street revitalized. I don’t make an extra dollar whether it’s on Main Street or Largo, Florida.
“This right here is the perfect opportunity, right in front of us, to get Main Street looking nice. I don’t know what the next option is. I know there has been a lot of talk around town of us tearing down buildings. ‘Oh, you should keep the buildings.’ I would love to give you guys a tour of these buildings. You can’t walk in them. Shanks doesn’t have a floor. They’re not salvageable.”
Councilman Doran responded, “That ship has sailed. You guys can do anything you want with them, no one is stopping you.”
Councilman Jeff Steele noted, “The long-term goal is this is going to be the spark that gets this thing rolling. And right now, this thing has been totally mishandled up to this point, in my opinion. We need to make it right, as a council.”
Councilman Doran responded to his observation by saying, “Well I would tell you that we can’t go around writing $500,000 checks out of our general fund.”
“I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is we shouldn’t have made an offer for an amount that our butt couldn’t cash. We can’t do that either,” Steele responded.
Though frustrations ran high during the meeting on both sides of the disagreement, council eventually came to the decision to move to executive session to further discuss the details of the situation. Before moving to executive session, both council and MedShip representatives expressed their intent to work together to harbor more transparent communications, and attempt to save the project for the Village of Camden moving ahead.
Councilman Doran stated, “I just want to apologize from all of us for the misunderstanding, and maybe the false start. It was not anyone’s intent to mislead or promise anything that wasn’t doable.”
Jarrell expressed he did not intend to, “take shots,” at anyone involved, he simply wants to see the project move forward.
In other business:
- Council approved Resolution #2047-2022, which is a Park Agreement regarding the servicing of Devil’s Backbone Park, which has recently been opened at the same location.
- Council reviewed documentation regarding moving forward with the Technology Center (Tech Center) architecture plans and agreements. Council approved forward proceedings.
- Council approved Resolution #2048-2022, which will see a section of U.S. 127 be repaved in the spring of 2023.
- Council expressed its intent to educate the village and surrounding community on the expenses the village incurs to maintain functionality. Currently, members of council are drafting educational information to appear more transparent with Camden’s citizens on its regular costs, and clearly express the financial stress alleviated by the regularly balloted tax levies.
- Council expressed its collective willingness to hear from Camden’s residents should they attend the regularly scheduled village council meetings.
Camden Village Council meetings are public meetings held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.