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County discusses economic development

Staff writer

Two county commissioners had markedly different takes on an economic development meeting last week at the Elgin Hotel.

Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation met with city and county representatives to discuss ongoing challenges to becoming fully operational, including an inability to fill its permanent board, controversial bylaws changes, and continuing skepticism from member cities.

Both Dianne Novak and Randy Dallke were at the meeting and had different perspectives on how it went.

“I thought it was, from a year ago, quite an accomplishment to get everyone interested,” Dallke said.

Dallke noted the three people appointed to the corporation’s permanent board are enthusiastic and ready to move forward.

“I think we were at two different meetings, because my perceptions are very different,” Novak said.

She said she believes the county has let the corporation down.

“We should have three appointees, and we have one,” Novak said. “I still say the county is the leader. You know the old saying ‘s**t rolls downhill.’ I’m ashamed and I’m embarrassed that those people have no support from the county.”

Novak said the corporation has no board of directors, no budget, and no way to move forward.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he has talked to people but they’ve told him they don’t want to commit the amount of time serving on the corporation board would require.

Dallke said he has talked to Lincolnville resident Mike Beneke, who has agreed to serve.

Commissioners voted two to one to appoint Beneke, with Novak voting against Beneke’s appointment.

Beneke said he supports the goals of the corporation and is willing to serve to see if he can help get the economic development group moving forward.

“If we 100 percent fail, at least we can say we tried to the best of our ability,” Beneke said. “Hopefully there will be a lot of people behind the scenes who will bring ideas.”

Marion economic development director Randy Collett, an ex-officio member of the corporation board, sat in on commissioners’ discussion of the corporation meeting.

“I was appreciative that the discussion was taking place,” Collett said.

Collett said the corporation has several equally important things to accomplish. It needs a strategic plan, a budget, and an executive director.

“If we’re asking communities to participate in this financially, there needs to be a plan for what this corporation needs to be,” Collett said. “And along with the plan, there needs to be a budget.”

Last modified Dec. 7, 2017

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