Warren EDC staying with partnership — for now

Jul. 28, 2014 @ 08:07 PM

WARRENTON — Warren County will join a regional marketing conglomerate for another year with the aim of bringing new business to the region — but reluctantly.

During an Economic Development Commission meeting Monday, the board approved continuing with the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, which is set up to assist the counties in marketing their areas for economic development, with dues totaling about 20 cents per capita more than previous years for a cost of more than $6,000.

Chairman Brady Martin said dues were subsidized for low-income counties before this year. But the North Carolina Department of Commerce phased out of paying for them last year, which left the board to pay the full cost.

EDC executive director Ken Bowman said few leads have been generated from the partnership in recent years, but he recommended the board continue with the organization despite the price increase for one more year to see what new businesses the group could bring to Warren County.

Gabe Cummings, former executive director for the commission, said the partnership does open doors to valuable contacts that sometimes turn into leads.

Peggy Richardson, EDC administrative assistant, said last year the board opted out of approving the price increase, but this year, the county has to pay to receive the services.

Martin said if the board did not allot the estimated $6,000 for its dues, it would have to find marketing support elsewhere.

“A county doing that on its own is limited,” he said. “But when you band together with an organization such as this, it really leverages what you can do.”

Bowman said the budget, approved by Warren County commissioners at their June meeting, already allotted the money for the increase.

Warren commissioner Ruby Downey, an EDC board member, said her peers should give it a shot.

“This is the first year it will be going up,” she said. “I think we should go with it and see where it takes us.”

The board also:

• Approved officers for the next fiscal year: Martin will remain chairman, Carl Lynch will remain vice president, and Peter Deschenes Sr. will remain secretary.

• Approved Cummings’ six-month contract with the county to provide agricultural business development. He said he would be lessening his duties in the next couple months to prepare for additions to his family.

• Heard updates on International Paper’s new warehouse construction. The paper company is projected to finish its new facility in Manson by November.

• Heard updates on the installation of a new solar energy facility in the eastern part of Warren County. Martin said the plant is expected to increase the county’s tax base and bring a couple of permanent jobs and a lot of temporary ones.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.