Economic development strategy to change in Haywood
An agreement approved Monday by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners represents a change in strategy to bring more businesses and jobs into the county.
A memorandum of understanding with the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce turns the economic development functions previously done by a two-person county staff over to the chamber. There is currently an Economic Development Commission that includes a county commissioner, representatives from each municipality in the county and the business community.
The transition will occur on July 1 when the county’s new fiscal year begins.
The process to transition economic development functions to a private/public partnership is one that began about a year ago, said Interim County Manager Ira Dove.
“Our desire was to generate more excitement around economic development,” he said. “It was important to have all stakeholders at the table.”
A chamber committee studied 17 different models across the region and found the public/private partnership model one that was successful.
“This will be building on the successes of what the county has done in the past,” Dove said of the new agreement with the chamber. In addition, having economic development efforts spearheaded by a nongovernment entity could prompt industries to become a financial partner in helping a region or a county grow.
Commission Chairman Mark Swanger said part of reason for the new arrangement is the drastic changes in the economic development climate in the state.
“The state is instituting a private/public model and changed the way regions are funded,” he said. “We need to change, as well. Nobody gives to government. That is just the bottom line. We understand it.”
Greg Boothroyd, the chamber’s board chairman, said the new arrangement was unanimously approved by the board.
Under the agreement, the chamber will form an economic development commission board with a mission statement, logo and strategies for moving forward. A county commissioner will serve as a full voting member of the board and participate in all nonpublic discussions. The Haywood County manager will also serve on the board.
The chamber has agreed to market the area to bring new companies to the county, build relationships with existing businesses, create a marketing plan to support targeted economic development efforts, provide a strategic plan, complete with performance measures and provide independent financial audits.
In return, the county will pay the chamber of total of $223,059 per fiscal year for the next two years, with an automatic renewal for a total of five years.
The parties can mutually agree to terminate the agreement on 30 days notice, or either party can terminate the agreement with 90 days notice.
Chamber President CeCe Hipps said the next step will be to develop policies, procedures and other documents outlined in the memorandum of understanding and be ready to proceed on July 1.