EDC board to eye restructuring

Jul. 18, 2013 @ 05:12 AM

A change in the structure of the Rutherford County Economic Development Commission (EDC) may be coming.

On Wednesday, the EDC met — without a quorum and with no votes taken — to receive information on a draft resolution prepared for the Rutherford County Commission for its next meeting Aug. 5.

The resolution dissolves the current EDC board and creates a public-private non-profit group as well as an alliance of "economic development stakeholders" that may include some current board members in the capacity of representing organizations they represent on the current EDC board.

"It really just follows the recommendations made in the (target market) study report," said Carl Classen, Rutherford County manager. "The resolution just recognizes that times have changed."

Because the EDC did not have a quorum Wednesday, a special meeting will have to be called in order for the board to approve the resolution.

Those EDC members present said the resolution does address a long-standing issue for the county and the group.

"I think this is in line with what the county needs," said Terry Hines, EDC board chairman. "As far as the advisory board, it solves that we don't feel like we have contributed to benefit economic development."

There was a concern over whether the new structure would be in line with changes proposed at the state level with the Department of Commerce. Those changes include creating a public-private non-profit and bringing all economic development under the umbrella of the department.

"The state really has a lot of ideas on what they are wanting to do but the speed of which they want to implement has been slowed down," Classen said. "From my understanding, what we are doing here will dovetail nicely but we have been told to do what is best for Rutherford County."

The overriding concern was what effect changes at the state level would have in generating economic development dollars for rural counties as opposed to the more rural areas of the state.

"I just feel like the smaller counties are going to have a tougher time," said Sally Lesher, EDC board member. "I don't know what it all means."

Classen said it was too soon to know what kind of an impact changes on the state level would have on Rutherford County but he said the county could not compete with the numbers generated from counties like Mecklenburg, Wake or Orange.

Under the resolution, an alliance will be established to include representatives from various entities in the county such as Isothermal Community College and Rutherford County Schools. The alliance may also include town mayors or managers.

"There has been a lot of activity and we would like to be part of it," said Bob Keith, Lake Lure mayor. "I think this is a good thing."

There has been no date set for a special meeting for the EDC board to approve the resolution.