County restores EDC, alters operational model

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 09:32 AM.

He added that a new five-member board comprised of business people in the community would be selected to oversee EDC activities and said several folks from the community had agreed to sit on that board.

There was some discussion regarding the pledges made between the BOCC and consolidated Chamber/EDC, but county attorney Jeremy Novak noted that nothing had been put down in writing, though Smiley acknowledged a “gentlemen’s agreement” concerning the time span and dollar amount.

The consolidated model was created in 2011 after commissioners ceased a five-year plan with the previously-constructed EDC barely two years into the pledge. The BOCC has altered the EDC operational model five times in the past 13 years.

“I have watched this (consolidation) process go on … and it clearly did not work,” Bryan said. “When the board decided to consolidate the agencies, they provided no clear direction. The Chamber spent money and identified a talented individual in Barry Sellers.

“You have taken his right wrist and tied it to his left ankle and told him to do his job. I do not believe government should be in economic development.”

Magidson said the upheaval at the EDC has made both potential private partners and companies looking to relocate to Gulf County “leery because of the way business is done in Gulf County and we have to change that.”

Yeager said economic development was difficult throughout the state and argued that the government must have a place in the equation, if for no other reason than taxpayer money was being used to fund the effort.

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