Commission likes plan, balks at funding

Staff writer

Creating a countywide economic development corporation was the big idea to come out of eight months of research by the county’s economic development task force, and creating it will come with a big price tag — about $800,000 over five years from county coffers.

Commissioners didn’t make a financial commitment to start the wheels turning Monday, but reacted positively to the concept.

“If you never step out of the box, you never get anywhere,” commissioner Randy Dallke said.

Task force chairman Chris Hernandez said participation by all communities in the county is necessary.

“What we’ve got to do is eliminate the infighting and go to what’s best for the county,” Hernandez said.

Task force member Roger Holter said the task force has drawn up a set of bylaws for Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation and filed them with the Secretary of State’s office.

Members of the corporation’s board would be elected by collaborating government entities, Holter said.

Hernandez said that strong leadership from elected officials is needed.

“We are asking for $165,000 a year and a five-year commitment,” he said. “With that, we’re prepared to go out to the communities and tell them the county chipped in, now get on board.”

Dallke said he can’t commit until he knows where the money will come from.

“This year our budget is set,” he said.

Committee member Tammy Ensey said the committee focused all its efforts on looking forward, not backward.

“That’s what we’re here to do is to build bridges across these communities that have been divided so long,” Ensey.

Holter said the team surveyed businesses, defined community assets, did competitive analysis for targeted industries, and analyzed the impacts of the rural recession on local economics.

Skilled trades are in high demand in the county and people with those skills bring home good salaries, Holter said.

The county won’t attract a large manufacturing company, but can attract other manufacturing.

“Right now there’s over a $30 million opportunity in our community,” Holter said. “The aerospace industry is looking for a manufacturer of cabinets to go in the planes.”

Holter said the task force’s vision is government bodies, a board, an executive director, and developers and businesses, each playing roles to build the county community.

“Personally I think we have got to give growth in Marion County a chance,” commissioner Dianne Novak said.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette agreed.

The commission voted to back the committee’s efforts and spend two weeks investigating funding options.

Last modified Feb. 16, 2017

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