The Daviess County Commissioners and the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. are laying out a new deal. It’s one that has less money going to the EDC and it’s also one that the business and job building organization appears to agree with.
Over the last few years, the county has had a pair of contracts to provide economic development services. One was with the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. for $100,000 per year. The other was with the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation Foundation for $182,000.
On Tuesday night the Commissioners voted to terminate the agreement involving $100,000 with the EDC and at the same time approve the one for $182,000 with the EDC Foundation. “I know some people saw that and thought it was negative,” said DCEDC Executive Director Ron Arnold. “Actually, we see it as a positive. This is exactly what we proposed last February.”
While the county has approved the proposal, the EDC wants its attorney to check it over before they sign on the bottom line. “We are reviewing the contract,” said Arnold. “It appears we are all on the same page, but sometimes the devil is in the details.”
Arnold says the change has very little to do with the organization’s fulfillment of its mission to bring jobs and businesses to the community. Instead, he says it is evidence of how the EDC has grown during the recent years. He points to how things have changed. “We now have the shell building and other buildings that are producing revenue back to the EDC,” he said. “We have worked on a formula to generate funds and now we can use it on projects.”
The EDC has assisted in several projects around the community and even helped with some infrastructure projects. The organization funded a feasibility study that led to the CR 900E project. “We’ve spent $5 million of our money on public infrastructure projects,” said Arnold. “We are involved in the overhead bridge and the helped with the roundabout. Some people are critical that we receiving public funding, but we also are putting our funding into public infrastructure. We are involved in water and sewer lines and lift stations.”
The groundwork for the changes was presented to the county commissioners and county council in February.
“We are also talking about making some changes that involve TIF districts and bonds and possibly even property taxes,” said Arnold.
Some might have questioned the timing of the change in the agreement. As a result of the opening of I-69, companies like GPC and Alliance Barrier have been expanding. New companies like M&C Tech and Alion Corporation have begun construction projects in the county.
“We have a great working relationship with the commissioners and getting the funding for things that need to be done,” said Arnold. “It’s going to be different. The structure has changed, the method has changed, but there is still support to utilize economic development funds.”
Arnold says the change in no way hampers the county’s ability to take on some of the mega-projects that are being talked about like the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda venture. “It’s all very positive and Daviess County is ready to take the next step,” said Arnold. “That automotive project has huge implications and if we get the chance we will work together on it.”
Officials say that while the amount of money going to the bottom line of the EDC may be changing, the bottom line of the relationship has not changed. “The commissioners are not acting negatively,” said Arnold. “They support what we are doing. We are still doing what we always have building businesses, creating jobs, raising pay and lowering the tax rate.”