The Gadsden County Economic Development Council (GCEDC) chairman, Lee Garner, gave the county commission an update on what the council has done since it was funded in October.
Garner said the council had been hard at work the past three months with consultant Beth Kirkland.
Kirkland, he explained, was at a CSX Railroad consultant meeting presented by the Southern Economic Development Council in Dallas, Texas where she was promoting rail service in Gadsden County.
CSX Railroad runs east and west through Gadsden County and A&N Railroad connects the CSX Railroad to Port St. Joe.
Garner said the council is currently working on completing their economic development strategy to address the needs of the county.
He stated the strategy was based on three principles of creating growth through effective policy and programming, and include:
• Market-driven growth which includes business start-ups and choosing competitive markets based on a good business climate and good marketing.
• Competitive projects, by retaining existing businesses, expansion of existing business and developing new business.
• Facilitate Growth with small business development, infrastructure upgrades, leveraging higher education and healthcare, utilizing international trade, tourism/recreation, and listing building site inventory.
Garner said they were in the process of looking for potential railroad sites in Gadsden County for warehousing or other development.
Commissioner Gene Morgan asked about the expenditures of the council. The county funded the GCEDC $100,000.
Garner said he did not know the exact amount but mentioned having spent about $17,000 so far.
Morgan asked about the deliverables required from the council.
Garner responded that the council was charged with developing an economic development plan for the county.
“We are well on the way down the road to start a draft for that,” Garner said.
“You’re getting your money’s worth out of us, and getting good work out of us,” Garner added.
Commissioner Brenda Holt mentioned marketing tourism in the county.
Chairman Eric Hinson said he had attended the council meeting and was impressed with the passion they had.
Commissioner Sherrie Taylor said she wanted a clear vision from the council, saying she had heard a smorgasbord of information during the report. “There is a lot of information and I need to get a picture; right now it is a puzzle,” she said.
Because she supported the council and funding she explained she needed a clear understanding of what was being done.
Taylor thought a meeting between the council and the commission should occur.
Garner had stated early in his presentation that the council would like a meeting with the commission to discuss economic development.
A meeting was tentatively set for May 20, at 4 P.M.