Fully funding economic strategic plan would benefit county’s future

Published 6:58 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

When the leaders of Warren County’s three economic development agencies announced their merger into The Partnership, they had the backing of business, the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The development of a single organization focused solely on economic development was hailed by area government and business leaders. That’s why it is curious and disappointing that the supervisors are reluctant to contribute $20,000 toward the cost of a consultant to help develop an economic development strategy that will enhance this area’s opportunity for a sound economic future for its residents and their children.

The reason the supervisors gave for their reluctance is the Warren County Port Commission was developed by the Board of Supervisors and therefore a part of the county. In effect, several supervisors argue, the county would be paying twice to support the efforts to hire a consultant.

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The port commission is a five-member board of two members appointed by the county, two appointed by the city and one member appointed by the governor. At one time, the commission was the economic development agency for the county. That has changed with the development of The Partnership, where everything is consolidated with a director and a board overseeing the county’s economic development efforts.

But for The Partnership to work, it needs the help and support of both local government and area businesses. Not just the vocal “we’re behind you,” but participation in the development of strategy, and being available to welcome the representatives of prospective businesses considering relocating central offices or locating a branch here.

It also means providing financial support, if needed, to develop programs like the strategic plan to determine the direction our economic development efforts need to go, and the strategy to best leverage our resources to get there.

It means the support of local government to show a consultant we’re serious about economic development and convince a business to locate here. In this case, it means financial support.

The Board of Supervisors has expressed its support for the area’s new direction for economic development.

Now it needs to be more than a cheerleader; it needs to provide some financial assistance to move the program forward.

We hope the supervisors will reconsider their decision, take a look at our future, think of the benefits to the county, and make their contribution.