The Rutherford County Economic Development Commission met Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at the Rutherford County Annex. The meeting was called to order at 10:30 am by EDC Board of Directors Chair Terry Hines.
The agenda was adopted for the August 2012 meeting and the minutes were approved from the July 18, 2012 meeting.
There were no public comments.
Matt Blackwell, Executive Director provided his report.
A) Vacant Administrative Assistant Position. Over 50 applicants for the position were culled to five who were called to interview for the position formerly held by Brenda Watson. Watson left to become Executive Director of Community in Schools (CIS.) Judy Toney, Human Resources Director for Rutherford County government, will be checking references of the top two candidates. Blackwell hoped an offer could be extended on Friday, August 17, 2012.
Realigning duties to the new administrative assistant from other staff would include becoming the webmaster and data administrator.
B) Blackwell introduced the concept of a formal Business Retention and Expansion Program to utilize some of the strategic partners already involved with economic development in Rutherford County. Business categories include small -0-49 employees, medium size businesses – 50-99, and large businesses with 100 or more employees.
C) Blackwell discussed hiring a consultant to perform a Target market Study and Strategic planning update. Preliminary estimates are for a $50-65k cost for a professional study to understand the current position and possible trends for future development to obtain the best opportunity for success in the shortest period of time. Blackwell discussed alternate funding than from the county budget such as private groups, utilities or state and federal agencies.
Terry Hines questioned how this study fit with the county commissioners’ plans. A brief answer was offered by county manager Carl Classen to say that the RFQ would of course be presented to the EDC board of directors and then presented to the county commissioners.
Hines requested a brief comparison of Rutherford County’s level of preparedness as compared to other counties. Blackwell responded with the assets: good strategic partners and relationships, excess utility capacity, willingness to expand outside of traditional boundaries, and some potential sites identified for development. On the down side, the business parks are not quite as prepared as other markets such as Charlotte. Grading, sidewalks, and access to internets is not up to par with Gaston County for example. Old textile mills do not meet the needs for modern factories or production lines.
Blackwell emphasized a more open EDC to work with the entire community. Blackwell has already contacted the Chamber of Commerce to see how they might work together to address business needs and promote Rutherford County. Blackwell wants people to “feel comfortable with the EDC’s activities.”
D) Activity Report
Blackwell and Mary Taylor responded to an RFI from a Greenville, SC consultant. While Blackwell felt they had submitted a competitive package, he learned that “all North Carolina sites were unofficially eliminated from the search.” Effectively, until the case of the remote situation in that all the SC responses are unacceptable, all the NC proposals are on hold.
Blackwell reported that the All American Homes site is to go on the market.
Blackwell also was a speaker at the local Kiwanis club. Concerns of the youth, in particular those not planning to attend college, were one of the key topics discussed.
Mary Taylor, EDC staff, presented the outline of the Business Retention and Expansion Program. Her intent was to reach out to existing business to let them know they are appreciated, discuss their plans and learn how the EDC might partner with them, and research the supply chain to market for their locations. Taylor called her program “Connect the Dots” in order to promote one stop service to industry.
Blackwell reiterated a more open door to the EDC business activities to the community as well as partnering with existing organizations to “operate in the most effective way we can.”