The agency in charge of industry recruitment and economic development in Brunswick County may no longer be part of Brunswick County’s government.
During a meeting Tuesday, the board of directors that oversees the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission (EDC) adopted a resolution that the EDC and its nonprofit Economic Development Commission Foundation separate from county government.
Brunswick County commissioners will likely vote on whether they accept the EDC’s proposal next week, according to commissioner Pat Sykes, who was at Tuesday’s meeting.
The board of directors also announced on Tuesday that EDC Director Jim Bradshaw would retire Oct. 1. Bradshaw declined to comment on the meeting or his retirement.
Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy gave the board of directors three options to move forward with the EDC’s future on Tuesday. No one would comment on why directors were given options to change the way the commission operated, though Hardy indicated county commissioners were aware that changes were in the works.
Hardy gave them the option to operate the EDC with the EDC managing all funding and operations, but with the county managing all financial transactions. Another option Hardy presented would have required Bradshaw and EDC commissioners to resign their posts so that the county could develop a county EDC that would report to the county manager and county commissioners.
Ultimately, the board accepted Hardy’s third option for the EDC to become “a truly separate organization” from the county government.
“The county would enter into a contract for services to support the organization,” Hardy’s proposal states. “The EDC would solicit funds to from other entities to assist with operations. ”
The EDC, which is currently housed in the Brunswick County Government Complex in Bolivia, would also have to find another location off-campus or reimburse the county “for space and services.” The foundation would also be required to become a non-public and separate entity from the EDC. EDC employees would cease to be county employees and the EDC would be responsible for salary and benefits of its employees, which currently is made up of a director, assistant director and economic development manager.
The new EDC structure will take effect Oct. 1.
Sykes said she found “discrepancies” within the ECD’s expenditures, citing a $9,000 vehicle lease.
“When you come and ask for money, all monies will have to be accounted for,” Sykes said. “If you ask for money, I need to know where it’s going.”
Also on Tuesday, Tom Adams–chairman of the N.C. Ports Authority–was appointed chairman of the 13-member board of directors.
Tuesday’s special meeting–a public meeting with a 48-hour notice requirement–was not advertised. No notice was posted on the EDC’s website and notices were not sent to the county’s sunshine list. An email to Bradshaw inquiring about the meeting notice was not returned at the time of this report’s publication.
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Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. James Mieczkowski is a news and government reporter at Port City Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.