EDC transitioning to interim stage
Published 8:58 am Friday, November 13, 2015
By Bobby Tingle and Dawn Burleigh
A recent meeting of county officials sought to address the need for economic development activity in Orange County. Current funding for the Orange County Economic Development Corporation will soon be discontinued. Appointment of an interim coordinator is being considered. Going forward this will allow basic EDC activity such as communication with outside interests who seek information about Orange County. This interim measure will allow time for a permanent solution to evolve.
“Basically, since all entities withheld funding, the Orange County Economic Development Council will not be able to operate” said Robbie Hood, city administrator of Pinehurst.
Appointment of a coordinator to provide scaled back services will be funded with resources currently held in reserve.
Current funding will cease as of December 31, 2015.
As the Orange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) was finalizing agreements with a company planning to invest approximately $50 million into the area; the City of Orange EDC discussed renewing a contract with the county EDC.
A contract the City of Orange opted to not fund in July 2015.
As part of the Interlocal Agreement, dated November 12, 2002, with the Port of Orange, Orange County, and the cities of Pinehurst, West Orange, Bridge City and Vidor, “each contracting party shall give written notice to all other contracting parties advising them of the notifying party’s decision whether or not to continue participation for the following year no later than August 30 immediately preceding the conclusion of any contract year. “
Orange County Commissioners Court also opted to not fund the EDC for the 2015/2016 fiscal year.
County and cities primary reason for denying funding was a lack of communication between the EDC and other entities.
The EDC was originally derived from a group of area businessmen who formed the Impact Committee under the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. The group struggled for three years to secure funding for the project at the time.
When mayors and city managers from the five surrounding cities of Orange County held an informal meeting sharing ideas and information for economic development, the EDC began to evolve in 2003.
Since the OC EDC has lost funding from the governing municipalities, the City of Orange hired Griffith, Moselely, Johnson and Associates, Inc. as a professional consulting services for attracting industrial and retail development for the purpose of economic development within the city in September.
The company will work with the city’s economic development staff and regional economic development community, site selection consultants, real estate developers and brokers, to identify economic development opportunities as well as review the city’s economic development strategic plan according to a Scope Of Work attachment to the contract between the EDC and the consulting firm.
The agreement is at a rate of $200 an hour and approved additional expenses for travel outside a 60-mile radius of the office located in Port Arthur, Texas, for the purpose of economic development.
Bobby Fillyaw and Shirley Zimmerman are the Orange County Economic Development Corporation. The office consists of the two individuals working towards economic growth of Orange County.
Fillyaw started working in economic development through his position with the state comptroller.
Orange County has distinct areas, which the OCEDC brings together to market the county to the rest of the world.
The EDC markets the five major cities, the county and the Port of Orange.
However, without the Hotel/Motel Tax events like the Bass Masters or the Expo portion of the Orange County Convention and Expo Center might not have happened.
The EDC went to the State legislature to get the legislation for the HOT tax. A tax, which has helped, generated many projects with about $175 thousands a year. The tax is close to raising $1 million since it’s inception. Almost all those funds came from outside Orange County and spent in Orange County.
A tentative meeting for the OC EDC is scheduled for Wednesday.