AG: ‘The Partnership’ does not have authority over ED director

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The joint economic development organization known as “The Partnership,” may oversee Vicksburg and Warren County’s economic development efforts, but it doesn’t have the authority to hire and fire the county’s economic development director, according to an attorney general’s opinion.

That authority lies with the Warren County Port Commission, which hired economic development director Pablo Diaz. The opinion also said it would be a conflict of interest for the Port Commission to pay the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce $1,000 a month rent to occupy the building, because of Diaz’s positions as the chamber’s executive director and port director.

“Those are the two things that needed to be clarified so we could sign Pablo’s amended agreement,” Port Commission chairman Margaret Gilmer said.

The Port Commission, the chamber of commerce and the Warren County Economic Development Foundation in March signed a contract for economic development coordination that combined them into an economic development organization called The Partnership. Its board of directors is composed of the five port commissioners and two each from the chamber and the foundation.

Under the agreement, Diaz serves as executive director of the chamber, economic development director and port director, and the port commission relocated from Guaranty Bank to the chamber offices on Mission 66.

An attorney general’s opinion was later sought to clarify any questions the organizers had about The Partnership board.

In another matter, Diaz said the chamber is nearing its goal to raise $100,000 to hire a consultant to help develop a strategic economic development plan for Warren County and Vicksburg. He said the chamber has $80,000 in pledges toward hiring someone. The Port Commission and the city of Vicksburg are each contributing $20,000 toward the project.

Diaz said the plan is to build a strategic and branding plan from scratch and have it in place by the start of 2018.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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